Radiation and heart disease
We know how radiation causes cancer. It damages DNA, and mutations occur when the body tries to repair the damage. Most of the damage will be successfully repaired, but the repair system is not perfect. It leaves mistakes in DNA. These mutations, as they are called, have the potential to make a cell behave abnormally, i.e. become cancerous.
Radiation-induced cancer we understand, but heart disease?
How would radiation cause heart disease?
According to Gofman, the same way as cancer. Radiation damages DNA-this time the DNA is in the arteries. (Consider that chest x rays are aimed right at the heart.) The radiation-induced changes create a cancer-like phenomenon in the arteries known as atheromas-oma meaning tumor.
Gofman believes that the interaction between atheromas and lipids blocks arteries and causes blood clots.
Another interesting feature of what radiation can do to blood vessels was noted by a researcher named Arthur Elkeles.
Elkeles was able to link up the age-related loss of calcium from bone and build-up in soft tissue (including arteries) with radiation. In 1977, he wrote that “alpha-ray activity in an aorta with severe atherosclerosis may be 220 times higher than in an aorta without significant atherosclerosis.” Damaged areas known as plaques were documented hot-spots for radiation. Elkeles believed that the calcium/radiation phenomenon “paved the way” for full-blown heart disease.
Edward A. Martell showed the validity of the radiation/heart disease connection by using data from smokers. People who smoke frequently develop early heart disease. Martell noted that cigarette smoke contains radioactive isotopes. Those isotopes accumulate in lungs and blood vessels, where they emit continuous low levels of radiation. That radiation causes changes in blood vessels.
(de radioactieve stoffen in tabak zijn daarin gekomen uit – door industrie-en – vervuilde lucht en door bv restdeeltjes die in kunstmest zitten!)
One of the striking effects of radiation is to cause arterial cells to multiply abnormally. Abnormal growth of cells lining the arteries narrows them. And abnormal growth of smooth muscle tissue surrounding the artery creates something similar to scar tissue which presses on the arteries, and ruins their flexibility. It’s not cholesterol that “clogs” arteries; it’s abnormal cell growth that narrows arteries. Cholesterol collects in areas already damaged.
As early as 1944, it was shown that plaques and foam cells could be produced with radiation. Since that time studies have been done showing that lesions, impaired nitric oxide function, permeability of the blood vessels, “sticky” platelets and increased free radicals-all of which are features of heart disease-can be created with radiation. In fact, atherosclerosis, in its entirety, can be created with radiation. And studies show that people who have undergone radiation of areas containing major blood vessels often develop atherosclerosis in those blood vessels. It doesn’t happen overnight, however. In a study on dogs, the effects of radiation on main arteries was not seen for four to five years. However, the time lag may be dose-dependent. In one grisly report, a 21-year-old man had a fatal heart attack a year and four months after receiving 3,696 rads of radiation for Hodgkin’s disease. An autopsy showed atherosclerosis. New research shows that radiation ages heart cells-it speeds up aging. And new data on the atomic bomb survivors indicates that some of them have abnormally low levels of T-helper cells (CD4), and this is especially true of those who have had heart attacks. Clearly, radiation causes serious damage to cells.
Radiation also damages small blood vessels. It was demonstrated in experimental animals that irradiation of muscles causes microvessels to shrink with age. In unirradiated muscles, the microvessels got bigger with age. Blood flow was significantly lower in irradiated muscles.
Radiation is not the only cause of damaged vessels, but it is an important cause, according to Gofman. It’s a cause that deserves far more scrutiny. And because medical radiation is the greatest source of radiation exposure to most people, this source of radiation has to be implicated in the high rate of heart disease in America.