If you are seeking to learn more about potassium iodide uses, the first thing to understand is that iodine and potassium iodine are two very different things. Iodine is an essential trace mineral that is necessary for maintaining good health. Potassium iodine is used for specific medical conditions and under specific circumstances. Potassium iodine uses vary, but the most well-known use is for emergencies, in particular, nuclear accidents.
Potassium iodine is highly effective in helping to protect the thyroid from damage when exposure to radioactive iodine-131 occurs. The thyroid is particularly vulnerable to exposure to radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide essentially floods the thyroid with iodine so that when radioactive iodine enters the system, the thyroid does not absorb it. If the thyroid absorbs radioactive iodine, cancer can result. It is important to note that these cancers may not manifest for many years.
Potassium Iodide Uses and the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Incident
During the Chernobyl nuclear incident in 1986, potassium iodide was given to millions of people in an effort to protect those living in irradiated areas. This turned out to be an extremely prudent step, as many years later it became clear to researchers that the need to protect the thyroid was, in fact, more pronounced than originally believed. The World Health Organization has documented that there was an increase in thyroid cancer up to 500 km from the Chernobyl accident site.
Other Potassium Iodide Uses-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
More recently in 2011, the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant resulted in a large, ongoing and potentially unknown level of radiation being released into the environment. This has left many people wondering if they should take special precautions, such as potassium iodide.
It has been since reported that U.S. Navy personnel within 100 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were instructed to take potassium iodine tablets as a precautionary measure. Many of these crewmen are reporting illness.
Nagasaki and Thyroid Disease
The effects of radiation exposure can be profound, complex and confusing. A good example of this can be seen in the survivors of the Nagasaki blast exposure. Over 40% of the survivors of the Nagasaki exposure have thyroid disease.
Potassium Iodine Must Be Used In a Safe Fashion
The nature of radiation exposure is such that it is extremely difficult to know if one will be impacted and how. The effects of exposure can take decades to manifest themselves. But one thing is certain; exposure should be avoided if possible.
Potassium iodine can be used to protect the thyroid from iodine-131, but it is not a cure or safeguard against all radiation exposure, nor should it be seen as such. Potassium iodine plays an extremely valuable role in protecting the thyroid from damage, but overuse can actually lead to thyroid damage. In other words, potassium iodine should be used when it is clear that there is an urgent and verified need. The potential side effects of using potassium iodine are such that the drug should only be used when there is a clearly and undeniable risk of exposure.