ISIS Report 07/06/12
Apple Pectin for Radioprotection
A group of doctors and scientists risked their lives and
careers to help children living in the most contaminated areas of the Chernobyl
fallout and discovered a simple treatment that clears the radionuclides from their
bodies, offering hope for future generations of Chernobyl and Fukushima victims Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Vassili Nesterenko and Yuri Bandazhevsky, champions of
the victims of Chernobyl
Special report to be included in Science in Society #55 (available August 2012). Pre-order now or Subscribe. All proceeds from SiS 55 will be donated to children of Fukushima and Chernobyl
The radioactive fallout from Chernobyl contaminated vast
areas of neighbouring Belarus to > 37 000 Bq/m2. Agricultural
production was halted on 264 000 hectares, where 2 million people live, among
them 500 000 children .
Vassili Nesterenko (1934-2008), a physician
from Belarus and a former director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy at the
National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, was one of the co-authors of a
comprehensive report documenting the health impacts of Chernobyl (see  Chernobyl
Deaths Top a Million Based on Real Evidence, SiS 55). Since 1990, he
had been the director of the Belarusian independent Institute of Radiation
Safety (BELRAD), created in 1989 with the help of Soviet physicist, dissident,
and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov (Nobel Peace Award, 1975), Belarusian
writer and critic, Ales Adamovich, and Russian chess grandmaster and former
world champion Anatoly Karpov. The mission of BELRAD was to document and study
the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster . Because of his work on
Chernobyl, Nesterenko lost his job and was threatened internment
in a psychiatric asylum. He escaped two attempts on his life.
Nesterenko intervened personally during
the accident at Chernobyl. As an expert on the subject and with his experience
as a fire fighter, he threw liquid nitrogen containers from a helicopter in an
attempt to cool the reactor core, risking his life in the radioactive smoke. He
survived, but three of his 4 passengers in the helicopter died from the radiation
Nesterenko was not alone in being persecuted
for working on Chernobyl.
Yuri Bandazhevsky, former
director of the Medical Institute in Gomel (Belarus) is a scientist also dedicated
to understanding and mitigating the health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
He created the Gomel Medical Institute, and was named its director in 1990. But
in June 2001, Bandazhevsky was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, as was the
Deputy Director, Vladimir Ravkov. The imprisonment was widely believed to be
due to his work on the consequences of Chernobyl, as his arrest came soon after
he published reports critical of the official research being conducted into the
Chernobyl incident .
Bandazhevsky was released on parole from
prison in 2005, and prohibited from leaving Belarus for five months. He was
afterwards invited by the mayor of Clermont-Ferrand in France to work at the
university and at the hospital on the consequences of Chernobyl. Since 1977, Clermont
Ferrand has been linked to Gomel. In France, Bandazhevsky is supported by the
Commission de Recherche et d’Information Independantes sur la Radioactivité
Chronic incorporation of Cs-137 into children’s organs
Bandazhevsky documented the chronic incorporation of Cs-137 in
the organs of children living in contaminated areas. A paper published in 2003
examined the organs of 52 children up to the age of 10, who died in 1997. The
highest accumulation was in the endocrine glands, in particular the thyroid,
the adrenals and the pancreas. High levels were also found in the heart, the
thymus and the spleen . Children have a higher average burden of Cs-137
compared with adults living in the same community, typically 2 to 3 times.
The organs from 6 infants with very high
levels of contamination in organs - thousands to >12 500 Bq/kg – all had
severe symptoms: premature malformation, sepsis, cardiac abnormality, sepsis
and bleeding, and cerebral malformation.
Histological abnormalities were also
demonstrated in the organ tissues and in animal models exposed to Cs-137 in
their feed .
As these children were born after March 1987,
they did not suffer from radioactive “iodine shock”; hence their illnesses and
death was not due to short-lived I-131, but long-lived radionuclides especially
In the course of his work, Bandashevsky found
that Cs-137 over 20 Bq/kg leads to disturbance of electrophysiological
processes in the heart muscle of children. Those born after 1986 and
continuously living in contaminated areas with concentrations above 15 Ci/km2
(Ci, Curie = 3.7 x 1010 Bq) suffer serious pathological
modifications of the cardiovascular system (see ).
Apple pectin reduces radioactivity in children’s body
Meanwhile, the BELRAD, under the direction of Nesterenko, carried
out radiation monitoring of the inhabitants of the Chernobyl contaminated zone
and their foodstuffs, and developed measures for the maintenance of radiation
safety and radioprotection. Nesterenko also pioneered a treatment with apple
pectin for children living in highly contaminated areas and eating highly
As a complement to standard
radioprotection measures, apple-pectin preparations have been given especially
in Ukraine to reduce the Cs-137 uptake in children. Pectin acts by binding to
the radionuclide in the gut to block its absorption. The question was raised as
to whether pectin might also be useful in clearing it from tissues. Caesium is
chemically similar to potassium, and therefore has a wide distribution in
tissues and cells, and is also excreted in urine.
Researchers at BELRAD carried out a
randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial to test the efficacy of dry,
milled apple-extract containing 15-16 % pectin on 64 children from contaminated
villages of the Gomel regions. The average Cs137 load in the group of children
was about 30 Bq/kg body weight. The trial was conducted during a one-month stay
in the sanatorium Silver Spring where only uncontaminated food was given to the
The results showed that Cs-137 counts in
children given pectin-powder were reduced by an average of 62%, whereas the
average reduction in those children given only placebo powder was only 13.9 %.
The difference was significant at less than 1 % level. The reduction was
medically significant, as no child in the placebo group reached values below 20
Bq/kg body weight, which is considered by Bandazhevsky as potentially
associated with specific pathological tissue damages.
Among the children living in the contaminated
areas, 70 to 90 % of the children had Cs-137 exceeding 15-20 Bq/kg body weight.
In many villages, the levels reached 200-400 Bq/kg; the highest values were
measured in Narovlya district with 6 700-7 300 Bq/kg. As shown by Bandazhevsky,
the chronic accumulation of Cs-137 contributed to progressive deterioration of
health [7, 8].
In a second study published in 2007 carried
out by the BELRAD and the Research Centre Jülich in Germany, a joint data-base
was created to include all available data from previous measurements at both
research institutes and evaluated to identify settlements with potentially
enhanced radiation burdens. Serial measurements of the Cs body burden were then
performed at those settlements. The new data for 17 000 children were used to
evaluate the actual situation with special attention to the critical group –
the 10 % in age group 1-19 y with the highest dose. These children were
recruited into further investigations on the effectiveness of different treatments
including apple pectin to reduce the Cs-137 burdens in the body.
Although total annual doses for most of
nearly 17 000 children assessed in 2002-2003 were generally below 1 mSv (the
international exposure limit, approximately equivalent to 1 308 780 Bq), there
are still cases where the limit is exceeded merely due to a high ingestion dose.
This calls for remedial measures for agricultural land and the use of clean
food and control of food contamination.
A brand of pectin called Vitapect consists of
apple pectins with added vitamins, mineral nutrient and flavouring. In a
placebo controlled double-blind study, 8 groups of internally contaminated
children were treated with Vitapect (5 g twice a day) for a two-week period
during their stay in a sanatorium. An equal number of control groups were given
a placebo preparation. Each group comprised 40-50 children. A total of 729
children participated in the study. The Cs-137 body count of each child was
measured at the beginning and end of the treatment.
The relative reduction of specific activity
was 32.4 + 0.6 % for the pectin groups compared with an average of 14.2 +
0.5 % for the control groups. The mechanism of action of pectins is assumed to
be similar to that of Prussian Blue, a proven and recommended agent for removing
Cs-137 from the body. It blocks the re-uptake of Cs-137 excreted into the gut,
thereby reducing the biological half-life by a factor of 2.5 from 69 to 27 days,
in good agreement with a theoretical model.
It is of interest that NASA
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in the United States has
suggested the following dietary countermeasures against ionizing radiation for
countermeasures are drugs, that when ingested by an astronaut, may have the
potential to reduce effects of ionizing radiation. These supplements can be
broadly categorized into two groups. The first group includes specific
nutrients that prevent the radiation damage. For example, antioxidants like
vitamins C and A may help by soaking up radiation-produced free-radicals before
they can do any harm. Research has also suggested that pectin fiber from fruits
and vegetables, and omega-3-rich fish oils may be beneficial countermeasures to
damage from long-term radiation exposure. Other studies have shown that diets
rich in strawberries, blueberries, kale, and spinach prevent neurological
damage due to radiation. In addition, drugs such as Radiogardase (also known as
Prussian blue) that contain Ferric (III) hexacyanoferrate (II) are designed to
increase the rate at which cesium-137 or thallium are eliminated from the
BELRAD holds training seminars
for parents and children, who receive the booklet, How to Pr0tect Yourself and
Your Child from Radiation”, containing practical advice such as how to reduce
the levels of radionuclides in wild fowl, mushrooms and fish, before they are
cooked: by soaking them for two periods of 3-4 hours each in salted water (two
tablespoons of salt with one tablespoon of vinegar in 1 litre of water) .
To-date, BELRAD has performed 433
000 whole body count measurement (WBC) in 300 villages in the provinces of
Mogilyov, Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk, Minsk and Bryansk. In 2001, the WBC
laboratory of the Institute was officially accredited and certified. The large
scope of the work required the collation and evaluation of all the data
received, which was then combined to produce The Radio-ecological Atlas:
Human Beings and Radiation, a systematic analysis of whole body count
measurements of Cs-137 performed on children in villages in 19 districts of the
Chernobyl region of Belarus between 2001 and 2007. The Atlas is regularly
updated as the Institute continues the radiation monitoring of children. It now
includes measurements performed up to 2011, including additional results from
two further provinces.
Seaweed alginate for radioprotection
Radioprotection is an urgent issue not just for the victims
of Chernobyl but especially now for those living in highly contaminated areas
of Fukushima (see  Truth about Fukushima,
SiS 55). A study carried out at the Institute of Radiation Medicine in
Beijing China in 1991 demonstrated that sodium alginate prepared from seaweeds
such as Sargassum sp. and kelp (Laminaria sp.) was able to block
radioactive strontium uptake . Na alginate from S. siliquastrum in
particular, reduced the body burden of strontium 3.3-4.2 fold in rats, and by
78% (+/- 8.9) in human subjects. No undesirable effects on gastrointestinal
function was observed nor were Ca, Fe, Cu and Zn metabolism altered, both in
the animal experiments and in human volunteers. A more recent study at the Institute
of Radiation Protection, Ingolstadter, Germany, found that sodium alginate
added to Sr-90 contaminated milk reduced the uptake of Sr-90 by a factor of 9
The seaweed Nori in the Japanese
diet is also a rich source of alginate.
Bandazhevsky and the Gomel Medical Institute, and Nesterenko
and BELRAD have made a real difference to the lives of villagers that they have
been able to help. The levels of radionuclides have been reduced in comparison
with the villages where the radiological contamination has remained the same or
where the situation has got worse as the result of particular local conditions,
such as, for example, an abundant crop of contaminated mushrooms. The
importance of decontamination, continuing health surveillance and radioprotection
cannot be over-emphasized.
BALRAD would have made much more progress had
it not been for a scandalous disinformation campaign mounted against the apple
pectin treatment, which stopped major funding from the European Parliament in
the 1990s  (see also  The Pectin Controversy,
There is indeed hope for future generations
to recover health and vitality, thanks to the work of these courageous doctors
and scientists, who put their lives and careers on the line for the sake of
learning the truth about the consequences of Chernobyl and helping the children
affected. They deserve all our support.
more information and especially if you would like to help, please contact
Enfants de Tchernobyl Belarus (http://enfants-tchernobyl-belarus.org); firstname.lastname@example.org;
or the Institute of Radioprotection “BELRAD” (http://belrad-institute.org);
BV. Radioprotective measures for the Belarusian population after the Chernobyl
accident. Internat J Radiation Medicine 2001, 3, 12.
MW. Chernobyl deaths top a million based on real evidence. Science
in Society 55 (to appear) 2012.
Nesterenko, Wikipedia, 6 March 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassili_Nesterenko
Bandazhevsky, Wikipedia, 27 Ma7 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yury_Bandazhevsky
YI. Chronic Cs-137 incorporation in children’s organs. Swiss Med Wkly 2003,
Y. From the syndrome of chronic incorporation of long lived radionuclides
(SLIR) to the creation of programmes and radioprotection policies for
populations, an example of an integrated model. Presentation at Scientific and
Citizen Forum on Radioprotection – From Chernobyl to Fukushima, 11-13 May 2012,
YL. Pathophysiology of incorporated radioactive emission. Gomel State Medical
Institute, 1998, 57pp.
YL. Medical and biological effects of radiocaesium incorporated into the
organism. Minsk 2000, 70 pp.
Faring, The Radiation Challenge, An Interdisciplinary Guide on Radiation
Biology for grades 9 through 12, Module 3: Radiation Countermeasures, NASA,
George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812, p.5, www.
Nasa.gov.centers.marshall, accessed 30 May 2012, http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/284275main_Radiation_HS_Mod3.pdf
10. Nesterenko VB,
Nesterenko AV, Babenko VI, Kozyrenko MA, Krasnopyorov IV and Voida OA.
Implementaion of radioprotection for populations at local level.
Radio-ecological Atlas: human beings and radiation. Presented by Alexei
Nesterenko at Scientific and Citizen Forum on Radioprotection – From Chernobyl
to Fukushima, 11-13 May 2012, Geneva.
11. Ho MW. Truth
about Fukushima. Science in Society 55
(to appear) 2012.
12. Gong YF, Huan ZJ,
Qiang MY, Lan FX, Bai GA, Mao YX, Ma XP and Zhang FG. Suppression of
radioactive strontium absorption by sodium alginate in animals and human
subjects. Biomed Environ Sci 1991, 4, 273-82.
13. Hollriegl V, Rohmuss
M, Oeh U and Roth P. Strontium biokinetics in humans. Influence of alginate on
the uptake of ingested strontium. Health Physics 2004, 86, 193-6.
14. Tchertkoff W. Le
Crime de Tchernobyl: Le Goulag Nucleaire, Actes Sud, 2006.
15. Greaves S. The pectin
controversy. Science in Society 55 (to
There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
|Todd Millions Comment left 12th June 2012 21:09:38|
Apple pectin is also the first line treatment for heavy metal contamination- from mercury for instance.The spanish treatment protocal is sweating and apple pectin.The prefered grade comes from canadian apples from British columbia-I don't know why,nor am I familar with vitiamin cut preperations.Paracelsus mentioned in some of his writings using apple pulp to treat some 'miners plagues'.
A book on Miso I read years ago reported that the treatment worked out under the most 'practical' conditions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki found Miso paste too be effective in treating radio isotope posioning.To bad the best barley and soy grades won't brew properly now due to patented GM contamination via endembified 'drift'.