Ann Coulter must enjoy causing dissension by claiming that “radiation is good for you. No disrespect aimed to Coulter and fans, but read on to bask in her distorted view on the topic . See the original footage toward the end.
In Coulter's recent article “A Glowing Report on Radiation”, it begins, “With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.” That has prompted many to retort that cancer rates drop dramatically after death by radiation poisoning.
Measuring radiation levels and their harmful effects is much more complicated than her ‘drive by' education on the topic. She's operating from a theory of hormesis, that high levels of radiation can harm but low levels can heal (We are not witnessing low levels with the fallout in Fukishima). It is believed that the low levels activate the immune system (like an infection) possibly causing certain ailments to heal, but this is not a magical cancer vaccine as she purports. You don't build an immunity to it and get stronger. She is also skewing this belief with her own thoughts, that more is better.
Hormesis counters the prevailing model, linear non-threshold (LNT), that is used to regulate radiation around the world. This model errs on the side of caution. Instead of viewing low levels of radiation as okay, it views radiation as more accumulative, that a few small doses would be the same as one high dose. So less is better, and none is best. The two different outlooks have been controversial for quite some time, but apparently Coulter has ‘seen the light.'
On the small chance that her information is compelling, here is an excerpt from the Canadian Nuclear Association (using the LNT model and Hiroshima research):
“The damaging effects of high doses of radiation on health are well documented. Indeed the effectiveness of radiation therapy relies on killing cancer cells. Doses of ionizing radiation lower than those used in therapy, but still hundreds of times higher than occupational and environmental levels, are known to increase the likelihood that some kinds of cancer will occur sometime (years) after the exposure. This was recognized, more than 50 years ago in the increased incidence of leukemia in various groups that had been exposed to high doses of radiation: children after they had been exposed to X-rays for various medical reasons during infancy or prenatal, radiologists, and the Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Therefore, scientists concluded at the time (in 1958) that the most conservative approach for protection was to assume that the incidence of leukemia would be proportional to the accumulated radiation dose, although there could be a dose below which there would be no negative effect. At high doses (about 100 chest X-rays all at once or about 100 mSv) data generally support the idea that the increased incidence of some cancers is proportional to the accumulated radiation dose. It has been possible to estimate the relationship between radiation dose and increased incidence of cancers (the “risk coefficient”) that do appear to be induced by high doses of radiation. The Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have provided most information for this.
For very low doses, like we are exposed to every day from nature, or from dental X-rays, airplane flights, or working near radiation like nuclear medicine and nuclear power stations (i.e. doses below 100 mSv), it is not possible to determine from A-bomb survivor data what the relationships are between radiation dose and cancer. However, just to be safe, the approach for protection purposes assumes all radiation can be detrimental and should be avoided or kept to levels “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA).
The New York Times article she misquoted originally said, “The tuberculosis patients, some analyses said, had fewer cases of breast cancer than would be expected” for those who were subjected to many x-rays. But Ann declared “those subjected to more x-rays had lower rates of breast cancer.”
She quoted old info about the 1983 Taiwan apartment complexes that contained high amounts of Cobalt 60, a radioactive substance, and how only five of the 10,000 had cancer. In 2006, Taiwan's National Yangming University Medical School found this:
RESULT: A total of 7271 people were registered as the exposed population, with 101,560 person-years at risk. The average excess cumulative exposure was approximately 47.8 mSv (range < 1 – 2,363 mSv). A total of 141 exposed subjects with various cancers were observed, while 95 developed leukemia or solid cancers after more than 2 or 10 years initial residence in contaminated buildings respectively. The SIR were significantly higher for all leukemia except chronic lymphocytic leukemia (n = 6, SIR = 3.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2 – 7.4) in men, and marginally significant for thyroid cancers (n = 6, SIR = 2.6, 95% CI 1.0 – 5.7) in women. On the other hand, all cancers combined, all solid cancers combined were shown to exhibit significant exposure-dependent increased risks in individuals with the initial exposure before the age of 30, but not beyond this age.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that prolonged low dose-rate radiation exposure appeared to increase risks of developing certain cancers in specific subgroups of this population in Taiwan.
She also boldly assumes that the high thyroid cancer rate among children after Chernobyl was a lack of iodine in their diets. You mean iodine that helps a thyroid protect against deadly radiation?
I won't even go into all the other heartless Chernobyl ramblings, quick research will show you it's no thriving playground, especially for the plants and animals. Untold amounts, more than 31 people, have died and suffered as documented in the book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, which estimates nearly 1 million deaths associated with the event. That may or may not be true, but they did find in that by 2005, between 112,000 and 125,000 liquidators [cleanup crew] had died. One liquidator is the last survivor of her team, her thyroid is long gone and she is hoping the Japanese near the nuclear sites simply run.
Just five months ago, Coulter actually – justifiably – complained about the use of TSA scanners' radiological damage, which is only a fraction of the amount emitted in a nuclear disaster. Body scanners are indeed dangerous… but nuclear meltdowns are good for you?
Even though she joked with Bill O'Reilly that we should all bask in the radiation, we highly doubt she'd take up that offer. Lets hope she stays in the battle against those truly awful TSA scanners for now.
Coulter: Radiation is Good For You
With her bizarre outburst, Coulter became the latest celebrity to cause a stir over controversial remarks on the disaster in Japan.
The right wing commentator was attempting to quell concern that a radiation plume was due to hit America’s West Coast today after travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from the damaged reactor at Fukishima.
Scroll down for video
‘There is a growing body of evidence that radiation in excess of what the government says are the minimum amounts we should be exposed to are actually good for you and reduce cases of cancer,’ she told Fox News TV host Bill O’Reilly.
Coulter pointed to articles in the New York Times and The Times of London to back up her argument.
‘So we should all be heading for the nuclear reactor leaking and kind of sunbathing,’ joked O’Reilly.
Coulter was speaking after writing a column on her website titled, ‘A Glowing Report on Radiation.’
She quotes a string of doctors to back her argument and writes: ‘With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.
‘This only seems counter-intuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad.
‘There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine.
‘Every day Americans pop multivitamins containing trace amount of zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, boron – all poisons.
‘They get flu shots. They'll drink copious amounts of coffee to ingest a poison: caffeine. (Back in the '70s, Professor Cohen offered to eat as much plutonium as Ralph Nader would eat caffeine – an offer Nader never accepted.)
‘But in the case of radiation, the media have Americans convinced that the minutest amount is always deadly.’
More than 150,000 people have been evacuated from the danger zone around the damaged Japanese reactor and the U.S. has advised citizens to evacuate from a 50-mile radius of the site.
‘You have to be responsible,’ said O’Reilly.
‘The prevailing wisdom is there is a level of radiation that's going to hurt you and perhaps kill you.
‘All you have to do is look at what happened here in New York City on 9/11.
‘The people exposed just to the debris coming from the collapsed towers are having a myriad of health problems. All right? Health problems all day long.
‘And there is variety of them. So you have to err on the side of caution.
‘What you say may be true. There may be some doses of radiation in the human body can ward off infection.
‘But in something like this, you have to get the folks out of there and you have to report worse case scenarios. You have to,’ he added.
He also pointed to the wartime U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as proof that radiation can kill.
The latest controversy came after a string of insensitive celebrity gaffes in the wake of the disaster.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by insurance company Aflac for Tweeting: ‘Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them.’
Rapper 50 Cent was blasted for a Tweet after writing: ‘Wave will hit 8am them crazy white boys gonna try to go surfing,” he wrote. “Look this is very serious people I had to evacuate all my hoes from LA, Hawaii and Japan. I had to do it. Lol.”
CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow was also in hot water after stating he was grateful the human toll was far worse than the economic cost of the crisis.
By DAVID GARDNER