Radiation Protection for Medical Imaging Tests

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Breast Cancer and Radiation | 7 comments

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Radiation Protection for Medical Imaging Tests

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Breast Cancer and Radiation | 7 comments

 

So you’re about to have a scan or a mammogram and you want to know whether or not it’s possible to prevent damage to your body from the radiation.

It’s an excellent question. Years ago, we wouldn’t have even questioned whether that was necessary when undergoing medical imaging tests like mammograms, CT scans and PET scans. Now we know better – we know that these tests are a concern, especially when you need to have several of them in a small timespan. So this article is for those of you who want to know how to detox from radiation exposure.

Measuring Radiation

The standard measure of a radiation dose is called the milliSievert (mSv). For an idea of how much we’re getting when we undergo medical imaging tests:

Mammograms deliver about 0.4 to 0.7 mSv [1]

CT scans deliver about 10 mSv [2]

PET scans deliver as much as 25 mSv [2]

Bone density tests deliver only around 0.001 mSv [3]

An x-ray of the lumbar spine delivers about 1.5 mSv [3]

Nuclear imaging bone scans deliver about 6.3 mSv [3]

To put those numbers into perspective, people are typically exposed to an average of about 3 mSv of radiation over an entire year just from their environment. So while bone density tests and mammograms are fairly low on the scale, the PET scan is a lot more worrisome. At 25 mSv, that’s roughly equivalent to 8 years worth of background radiation delivered in one big hit.

Some studies have compared the amount of radiation delivered during routine diagnostic medical scans to be similar to the amount of radiation received by atomic bomb survivors!

So Can We Protect Ourselves From Radiation?

Going back to the question of whether we can prevent radiation damage when undergoing medical imaging, while I’m not aware of any conclusive human studies that show a particular protocol works for prevention or reversal of radiation damage, we certainly do have plenty of studies that show many foods and supplements have ample radioprotective properties.

In answer to my clients’ frequent requests for help with protection from medical imaging tests, I have put together a protocol – and while it’s not exactly quantifiable as far as its ability to protect us, the studies on each of these items certainly do indicate that the herbs, supplements, etc I’m recommending do indeed have radioprotective properties. These are all easy to find and take, and I believe we are doing good things for ourselves when we follow this protocol. It certainly doesn’t hurt for us to take them and we may in fact be ameliorating the damage to a huge degree. For scans where you are told to fast first, of course you must follow those directions. So you would leave (a) and (b) under Same Day of Test – morning and 30 Minutes Prior out of this protocol and just have them after you’re done.

Marnie’s Protocol for Reducing Radiation Damage from Medical Imaging 

Same Day of Test – morning 
a. Drink 2 cups freshly juiced beets and apples [4], [5]

b. Drink 1 cup of organic loose leaf green tea [6]

You can have your normal breakfast as well, but avoid white bread, sugary cereals.

30 Minutes Prior to Imaging Test
a. Take 25 mg melatonin PLUS 600 mg liposomal vitamin C (taken together they have better radioprotective qualities than either one on its own) [7] In the study at [7], they state that 300 mg melatonin was taken. However, most melatonin supplements come in 5 mg doses (and I don’t think anyone wants to take 60 tablets). In my experience, 25 mg is a sufficient dose, especially when combined with the liposomal vitamin C and the curcumin with piperine.

b. Take 2,000 mg curcumin with piperine [8]

Immediately After Imaging
a. Drink 2 drops of Lugol’s iodine in a small quantity of water [9]

b. If having a mammogram, after the test (definitely NOT before), apply some organic aloe vera gel onto the breast tissue, along with a couple drops of a high quality lavender essential oil – feels great and both have radioprotective benefits

Before Bed
a. Take another 1,000 mg dose of curcumin with piperine. Why curcumin twice? A 2013 Iranian randomized controlled trial with 40 prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy found that 3,000 mg of curcumin per day offered significant radioprotective effects. [10]

b. Lycopene – low dose, according to study at [11]. The dose is 0.15 mg per kilogram body weight (so for instance if you weigh 80 kg or 176 lbs, multiply 0.15 x 80 = 12 mg would be the dose)

Foods and Nutrients to Concentrate on Adding to Your Diet the Day of Imaging and Several Days Afterward

Antioxidants like vitamins C and E

Asparagus

Beans and lentils

Beta-carotene

Calcium-rich foods* – dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, salmon, beans

Chlorella

Cruciferous vegetables (included are broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, swedes, collards, watercress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, and bok choi)

Flaxseed (which breast cancer survivors should be taking anyway due to its anticancer activities) [12]

Garlic and onions

Green tea, black tea

Magnesium-rich foods* – dark leafy greens, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, black beans, navy beans

Pectin-rich foods – apples, pears, guava, quince, oranges, plums (pectin was shown after Chernobyl to accelerate the clearance of Cesium 137 from the body) 

Potassium-rich foods* – apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, kiwi, lima beans, oranges, potatoes, prunes, spinach, tomatoes, winter squash

Sea vegetables like wakame, seaweed, nori

Selenium-rich foods – Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, halibut, salmon, eggs, mushrooms including shiitake, button, whole grains, onions 

Spirulina 5,000 mgs (5 gms) per day

Tomato products (cooked) like tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato passata, even ketchup – for the lycopene

*Deficiencies in calcium, potassium and magnesium can make radioactivity more harmful for you 

Radioprotective Herbs

Aloe vera – stimulates skin repair, heals radiation burns

Ashwaganda – helps to supports thyroid and adrenal glands

Astragalus – supports thyroid function

Burdock root

Dandelion root

Ginkgo biloba (avoid if on blood thinners)

Milk thistle

Peppermint

Red clover

Reishi mushrooms

Siberian Ginseng

Yellow dock

Things to Avoid

It’s best to avoid highly processed foods, sugars and flours for several days – for obvious reasons. After radiation exposure, the last thing you’ll want to do is take in foods that compromise immune function.

I recommend carrying on with the foods and nutrients from the list above – not these alone, but in combination with what you normally have for a good, healthy diet – for several days after exposure to some of the higher mSv tests.

I also have an excellent protocol for protecting your skin when undergoing several weeks of radiotherapy, which can be quite damaging to your skin: How to Protect Your Skin From Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer

References:

[1] https://www.wakerad.com/expert-feature/how-much-radiation-is-in-a-mammogram/

[2] https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/understanding-radiation-risk-from-imaging-tests.html

[3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/radiation-risk-from-medical-imaging

[4] Radioprotective activity of betalains from red beets in mice exposed to gamma irradiation – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19446548/

[5] Whole body radioprotective effect of phenolic extracts from the fruits of Malus baccata (Linn.) Borkh – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26741951/

[6] Radioprotective effect of green tea and grape seed extracts mixture on gamma irradiation induced immune suppression in male albino rats – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27813697/

[7] Micronuclei Assessment of The Radioprotective Effects of Melatonin and Vitamin C in Human Lymphocytes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819385/ 

[8] The Influence of Piperine on the Radioprotective Effect of Curcumin in Irradiated Human Lymphocytes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7227940/

[9] A physiological systems model for iodine for use in radiation protection – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20726703/

[10] A Pilot Clinical Trial of Radioprotective Effects of Curcumin Supplementation in Patients with Prostate Cancer – https://www.hilarispublisher.com/open-access/a-pilot-clinical-trial-of-radioprotective-effects-of-curcumin-supplementation-in-patients-with-prostate-cancer-1948-5956.1000222.pdf

[11] The effect of lycopene supplementation on radiation-induced micronuclei in mice reticulocytes in vivo – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31123854/

[12] Flaxseed may be effective in protecting against harmful effects of radiation – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809111821.htm

7 Comments

  1. Nicky T

    You mention 2cups freshly juiced beets and apples on the morning of, however my ct scans always state only water prior to scan?

    Reply
    • Marnie

      Hi Nicky,
      Yes – some scans do require you to fast prior – for those scans, you must follow the screening directions.
      Warmest regards,
      Marnie

      Reply
  2. Bonnie

    Thank you for this most informative article. I appreciate your work using acceptable references.

    Reply
    • Marnie

      Thank you, Bonnie, lovely to hear from you! Hope you are doing well xx
      Marnie

      Reply
  3. Olesya Anderson

    Thank you for a comprehensive article that is supported by research.

    Reply
  4. alice brown

    thank you Marine for all you wisdom and knowledge

    Reply
    • Marnie

      Thanks for your comment, Alice.
      Warmest regards,
      Marnie

      Reply

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About Marnie Clark

marnie clark breast cancer coach

Hi I’m Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor turned coach. I have 20 years of experience in natural medicine.  In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.

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