[ RadSafe ] Article on German hormesis research

Walter Cofer radcontrol at earthlink.net
Sun May 6 22:54:38 CDT 2007

Seeing as how hormesis is such a favorite topic of this list's members, I
thought I'd share this article from Germany, which has an interesting take.
As a radiation safety trainer, I include a discussion of hormesis in my
classes when covering biological effects.  I always try to emphasis that
there are no certainties when dealing with low-dose, chronic exposures, but
my bias towards the threshold & hormesis schools of thought tends to come
through, so I always welcome new research to points in that direction.

I got a kick out the author's use of the phrase "radioactive radiation" -
but I suppose its accurate, because there are certainly plenty of
non-radioactive forms of radiation (though I prefer to call it ionizing
radiation).  Enjoy!

Walt Cofer
Tallahassee, FL
radcontrol at earthlink.net 


World Lingo       Innovations Report         Forum for science, industry and


Like Cures Like

Would you like to reduce the risk of developing anything from cancer to
Alzheimer's? In that case, you should expose your body to heavy physical
stress. So heavy that it borders on being injurious.

May 4, 2007            By Tore Oksholen/Gemini

We already know that exercising is good.  It makes us fit and reduces the
risk of cardiovascular diseases.

But there is more: "It increases the protection against many types of cancer
and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.  And there is even
more.  We are on the scent of new biological and physiological mechanisms,"
says Professor Alf Brubakk at the Department of Circulation and Medical
Imaging at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

"When the human body is exposed to heavy physical stress, the body develops
protection against diseases and external physical strain.  We are talking
about a very concrete, often measurable connection," says Professor Brubakk.

"One of the most astonishing facts related to these mechanisms is that the
protective effect is measurable after a single load," says Brubakk. That
could indicate that even the first workout yields results.

Cold shock and radiation

The characteristic feature of the mechanisms that Professor Brubakk and his
colleagues are working to reveal is that they affect areas we usually do not
think of as health-promoting - we only think of them as physical overload.

Extreme cold/heat is one type of physical overload: exposing our bodies to
strong heat, for instance in a sauna, causes the "chock proteins" to
mobilize and protect us from serious injury related to deep-water diving.
We have reason to believe that exposure to cold has similar effects.

Another type of physical stress that we are used to regard as solely harmful
is radiation.  "It is a well-known fact that radioactive radiation causes
cancer.  But it is less known that minor doses of radioactive radiation
actually reduce the risk of developing cancer," says Brubakk.  He
immediately adds that we do not know enough about the optimal dosage yet.

Bordering on injurious

"In general, we still know very little about the amount necessary to provide
protection, how often the load must be repeated and how long and in what way
the body is protected after a load," Brubakk says.

So far, results indicate that the load must be heavy.  "It appears that it
should be so heavy that you are bordering on injurious.  That is when the
effect is best, by far," Brubakk explains.

When it comes to exercising, short and hard workouts provide the best effect
compared with longer workouts with lower intensity.

Stressed pigs survive

Professor Brubakk is heading a world-leading research environment within
diving.  It was pilot studies in this area that led them to these
mechanisms.  "Several times, we saw that experimental animals that were
exposed to stress right before potentially deadly experiments actually
survived," says Brubakk.

During other experiments, researchers saw that hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) - the
supply of oxygen under increased pressure - activates stem cells from the
bone marrow, and particularly those cells that protect against blood vessel
damage.  This type of stem cells can also form the basis for cells that
later develop into for instance brain cells.

"We believe these mechanisms are universal, where the exact type of
connection is irrelevant.  The general message is that physical load,
physical stress in general, is healthy for your body," he says.

At a deeper level, this deals with how the human organism is perceived,
according to Brubakk.  "We are dynamic creatures.  For instance, the fact
that our body temperatures vary throughout the day is a sign of good health.
The same goes for blood pressure.  We need to abandon the type of thinking
that says that changes are bad.  On the contrary, it is static situations
that are injurious."

The Good Stress

Brubakk advocates much more research into these connections.  It could lead
to major social benefits.  One large area is work-related injuries: If
certain occupational groups that are particularly exposed to injury because
of their work, with simple means could reduce the frequency of injuries, the
economic effect would be substantial.

"This deals with preventing disease and damage to our own health.  The
deficit in the public health service is increasing despite the fact that we
are spending more money in this field than ever.  The only long-term
solution is to reduce the need by strengthening people's ability to deal
with the stress in society.  We could call it 'The Good Stress'," concludes
Professor Alf Brubakk.



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