Dumbasses pay to sit in mines filled with radon gas in hopes of improving their health.

Tell some people that the government has determined that they shouldn’t stick a fork into their eye and they’ll do it anyway. Then they’ll claim it actually helps them to see better. And it cured their gout. And their jock itch. And whatever else ails them. The same thing applies to exposing themselves to known carcinogens such as radon gas. In fact, not only are some people seeking out sources of radon to expose themselves to, but other people are charging them good money for the privilege of doing so. Out in Montana there’s at least two “radon health mines” where for an hourly rate you can sit in an abandoned mine and breathe in the radon filled air:

The Montana public health agency “doesn’t encourage (the mines’) use,” said Dr. Todd Damrow of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Service. “But people are free to use them.”

And they do, by the thousands every year. Many people make annual pilgrimages to the Merry Widow and the Earth Angel mines in Basin, and the Free Enterprise and Lone Tree mines in Boulder.

Owners of the mines dismiss the EPA warnings about radon as “government propaganda.”

“It’s not harmful at all,” said Patricia Lewis, owner of the Free Enterprise Mine.

The article doesn’t state what qualifications Patricia Lewis has for determining that radon gas isn’t harmful in spite of the mounds of studies that contradict her stance. Nor does the article elaborate on what reason Lewis feels the government has for spreading such propaganda about the dangers of radon exposure, but I’m sure her reasons are all based on valid scientific principles and exhaustive medical research, right? Well, she does have a nice list of links to a handful of dissenters on the dangers of radon at her website some of whom do have valid medical degrees and some of the organizations have impressive names (though some of the websites are now defunct), but compared to the amount of contradictory evidence the literal handful of counter-arguments doesn’t hold up well. It certainly doesn’t justify the laundry-list of ailments that they claim radon therapy might be helpful for:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

  • Arthritis (OA, RA, JRA etc.)

  • Asthma

  • Behcets

  • Bursitis

  • Cancer (Breast)

  • Carpal Tunnel

  • Chronic Pain

  •   Circulation

  •   Diabetes Type I & II

  • Eczema

  • Emphysema

  • Fibromyalgia (FMS)

  • Gout

  • Hayfever

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Inflammation

  • Lupus (SLE)

  • Migraine Headaches

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • Osteo Arthritis (OA)

  • Post Polio Syndrome (PPS)

  • Prostate (BPH)

  • Psoriasis

  • Rheumatoid (RA)

  • Scleroderma

  • Sinus

  • Ulcerative Colitis

Much like the ever-popular Homeopathy or some practitioners of Chiropractic, it seems like there’s not much radon therapy isn’t effective for if you believe their website. The owner of the other mine is Dwayne Knutzen and he’s got the typical I-was-a-skeptic-at-first story that’s familiar to anyone who pays attention to these things.

“I was like everybody else,” he said. “Radon? That can’t be good for you.”

But the more he researched the health benefits of radon, he said, the more he was convinced of them.

“The only reason I bought the place,” said Knutzen, “is it’s so fascinating. You hear all these bad things. But you can’t ever find anybody who died from it. And there are all these benefits.”

It’s probably true that you’re unlikely to find many death certificates that specifically list radon as the cause of death, but then you don’t normally find death certificates that cite smoking as the cause of death either as in both cases it’s something that tends to affect you slowly over a period of time eventually resulting in lung cancer. In fact, if you’re a smoker the risk increases dramatically. 

It’s estimated that around 14,000 deaths a year are associated with radon exposure, though that could range from as low as 7,000 to as high as 30,000. Ironically, we know more about the dangers of radon than we do about almost any other human carcinogen thanks to extensive epidemiological studies of thousands of underground miners carried out over more than fifty years world-wide. The charge that this is all Governmental propaganda doesn’t hold water as these studies have been repeated throughout the world.

    In 1988, a panel of world experts convened by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer unanimously agreed that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that radon causes cancer in humans and in laboratory animals (IARC, 1988). Scientific committees assembled by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS, 1988), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP, 1987), and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP, 1984) also have reviewed the available data and agreed that radon exposure causes human lung cancer.

    Recognizing that radon is a significant public health risk, scientific and professional organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association, and the National Medical Association have developed programs to reduce the health risks of radon. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reviewed the epidemiological data and recommended that the annual radon progeny exposure limit for the mining industry be lowered (NIOSH 1987).—A Physician’s Guide – Radon: The Health Threat with a Simple Solution

But don’t let that dissuade you, a couple of yahoos out in Montana say it’s perfectly safe and they’re willing to charge you $112 for 32 hours of exposure to prove it to you. Hey, they got tons of testimonials from other folks they’ve successfully charged as proof that it works!

A sign above the door reads “Fountain of Youth – Feel Young Again,” a reference to the mine’s radon-saturated spring water that flows from the depths of the mountain. Guests frequently brave the icy 40-degree temperature of the water with hopes of soaking away pain and swelling in joints and to improve circulation. They even splash it in their eyes to improve vision and, some say, cure cataracts. Others drink the water, hoping for relief of bladder and prostate problems, according to Knutzen.

“A lot of people take the mud off the wall and rub it on their skin for skin problems,” Knutzen said.

Similar inside to the Merry Widow, but with a more cramped, 600-foot tunnel and fewer amenities, the Earth Angel was purchased five years ago by Bill Remior. He charges $2 a day for “treatments” in his mine.

A disabled World War II veteran, Remior had visited all the area’s radon mines for 20-some years before buying the Earth Angel.

“I seen what good they did me,” he said. “I figured it was the Good Lord was doing it. I’ve got a weak heart and only half a lung. But I can go good yet. It’s helped me. I seen a lot of miracles come out of here. And I never seen anything wrong.”

Probably the most hilarious comment, though, comes from Knutzen:

“Radon is a colorless, odorless gas,” said Knutzen before leading a tour of his mine. “But when you come out, you register on a Geiger counter.”

He says this like it’s a good thing. Next thing you know he’ll be telling you it’s OK if you glow in the dark as it makes reading books when the power is out a lot easier. Part of the problem, of course, is that radon is a slow killer. If it worked faster then these idiots would kill themselves off in short order and wouldn’t be around to continue to spread their stupidity to other people. It’s like that myth about a frog in a pot of water brought slowly to a boil. So long as the damage is gradual and hard to see then these idiots will continue to expose themselves to the danger. Still, I suppose that’s Darwin’s theory of natural selection at work.

128 thoughts on “Dumbasses pay to sit in mines filled with radon gas in hopes of improving their health.

  1. Another serendipitous article, from today’s Sunday Telegraph (UK).

    Note that my ‘shill for drug makers’ comment was intended to be tongue in cheek, it is missing the ntended smiley. Sorry about that. The ‘dishonesty’ is just your claim to want/need “proof,” but you get it then make contrary statements. It seems intentional. Maybe not.

    Regards, Jim
    ========================

    Nuclear power is fine – radiation is good for you By Dick Taverne
    (Filed: 08/08/2004)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/08/08/do0801
    .xml&sSheet=/news/2004/08/08/ixhome.html

    Oil prices are at their highest for almost 20 years amid ever-increasing concerns that the world faces an energy drought. At the same time, as a signatory to the Kyoto Treaty, our Government is giving financial incentives to those who want to cover the country with giant wind turbines.

    Yet, why, with the notable exception of James Lovelock, the inventor of the Gaia hypothesis, do the world’s environmentalists reject nuclear power, which emits almost no greenhouse gases? Because they are frightened of accidents and of radiation emanating from nuclear power stations and nuclear waste. Their fears of radiation are not only widely shared, but they are nourished by official sources and have even become official policy.

    The present policies for radiation safety are based on the “linear no-threshold assumption”, which is endorsed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. This is the assumption that even the smallest amount of radiation is harmful and may cause cancer and genetic disorders, and that the risk of harm increases proportionately with the dose.

    On this basis, we should aim to avoid any exposure at all. Accordingly, the standards for radiation protection set by the commission have become more exacting and the maximum exposure dose declared to be safe is continually lowered.

    The standard measurement of radiation is set in terms of milliSieverts (mSv) per year. In the 1920s, the maximum dose regarded as safe was 700 mSv. By 1941, it was reduced to 70. By the 1990s, it became 20 for occupationally exposed people and 1 mSv for the general population. Some people believe that the maximum exposure dose should be lower still.

    Unfortunately, far from safeguarding our health, current safety standards will almost certainly increase the incidence of cancer. The evidence shows that the effect of radiation on human health is not a linear one, but is a J-shaped curve. Exposure starts by being beneficial at low doses and only becomes harmful at higher doses. This effect is known as hormesis.

    A low dose of ionising radiation seems to stimulate DNA repair and the immune system, so providing a measure of protection against cancer. The benefit of low doses of radiation in treating cancer have been known for some time and are confirmed by a mass of evidence, particularly from Japan where it has been studied in detail as a result of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Many other examples of the hormesis effect are well known. A bit of sunshine does you good; too much may cause skin cancer. Small doses of aspirin have many beneficial effects; too much will kill you. It also appears to apply to arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and residues of synthetic pesticides, but that is another story.

    Epidemiological evidence confirms the hormesis effect of radiation. The prediction that there would be terrible after-effects from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the survivors and their children was proved wrong. Japanese studies of the life expectancy of survivors who suffered relatively low amounts of radiation show that their life expectancy turned out to be higher than those of the control group and no unusual genetic defects have been found in their children.

    Again, a follow-up study of Japanese fishermen who were contaminated with plutonium after the nuclear tests at Bikini found 25 years later that none of them had died from cancer.

    After the Chernobyl disaster it was also predicted that the incidence of cancer among those affected by fallout would greatly increase and there would be huge genetic damage to future generations. It was about as bad an accident to a nuclear power station (a badly constructed one) as is likely to happen. Its psychological effect was huge and changed people’s perception of the risk of nuclear energy all over the world.

    Indeed, it is constantly cited as an example of the unparalleled threat to health from nuclear disasters. Tragically, it led to 31 deaths, mainly among rescue workers who were exposed to very high doses of radiation. Yet in the areas around Chernobyl the extra radiation to which people were exposed in the nine years following the accident was slight – an increase of about 0.8-1.4 mSv.

    In May 2001, in the Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which is now a ghost town after its complete evacuation, the average amount of persistent radiation found was 0.9 mSv a year, five times lower than the level in New York’s Grand Central Station. In parts of southwest France the levels of natural radiation are as high as 870 mSv a year.

    There is strong evidence that people exposed to low doses of radiation – amounts 100 times more than the recommended range – actually benefit. The incidence of thyroid cancers among children under 15 exposed to fallout from Chernobyl was far lower than the normal incidence of thyroid cancer among Finnish children.

    The death rate from leukemia of nuclear industry workers in Canada is 68 per cent lower than average. Workers in nuclear shipyards and other nuclear establishments in the US and many other countries have substantially lower death rates from all cancers and are much less likely to die from leukemia.

    This might be explained by the fact that their health is regularly checked and that only healthy workers are employed. But it corresponds with a mass of other evidence that people who live in areas of unusually high natural radiation, in Japan, China, India and the US, are less likely to die from cancer than a control group.

    These facts destroy what are perhaps the strongest objections to nuclear power. They show that the regulations seeking to enforce present, let alone proposed, minimum standards of safety not only cost billions of pounds and have undermined the prospects of our development of nuclear power, but do more harm than good.

    It is time that we looked more closely at the phenomenon of hormesis and at the successful Japanese experience of using low-dose radiation to treat cancer. When the evidence is so clear, we should not allow it to be brushed aside by conventional wisdom and ignorance.

    Adapted from an article in this month’s Prospect magazine. Lord Taverne’s book, The March of Unreason, is published in November by OUP

  2. That assumes there is a there there.

    There is always a there, just the facts (not my opinion, just the substantial evidence in the science literature). You’ll never get there if you have to believe me, or even understand me, first.

    I hold no particular views on the therapeutic benefits of LDR, but the way Jim purports himself doesn?ft inspire confidence.

    Not sure what “purports himself” means, but it’s funny that people who started this with “dumbasses” and idiots and charlatans and “sodomize them with shotguns” etc. etc. etc., are suddenly supersensititive to being shown up with factual evidence without due deference and temperate language and adequate “proof” of complex molecular biology, so they blame the messenger in order to justify their own failure to acknowledge the evidence.

    I have no vested interest. I work for the govt. I’m just here to help grin

  3. Jim – This most recent article you listed has to be one of the most counter-productive ones so far to justify your position.

    Unfortunately, far from safeguarding our health, current safety standards will almost certainly increase the incidence of cancer. The evidence shows that the effect of radiation on human health is not a linear one, but is a J-shaped curve.

    So, mine drilling equipment and nuclear power plants are a medical benefit?  (I’d put a smiley here but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.)

    One thing this Radon thread has done is show me that you can get a doctor to say just about anything for a bleeding heart story and a buck…Or just a buck.  True, some doctors are probably in the government’s hip pocket but after days and days of researching this topic I have come to this conclusion.

    Approximately 90% of health professionals agree that Radon, even in low doses, is harmful to the human body.  Some 75% tend to believe that the threat of low dose Radon exposure has been overstated but harmful nonetheless. 

    Of the remaining 10% of health professionals.  About 50% of those believe that there may be beneficial qualities to low dosage Radon exposure.  The other 50% are unwilling or unable to stipulate a harm or benefit at low levels.  Of that entire 10% I was able to locate one single doctor’s recommendation for Radon therapy. (Funny thing here, I found several sites that listed Radon treatment, didn’t directly recommend it, but did recommend prayer.)

    Is this were an episode of MythBusters  We’d be seeing the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine as BUSTED.

    captcha = ‘why’  Why do people still go there?  Because it makes them ‘feel’ better.  So does ice cream.

  4. Les, I notice you realized the potential (!!!) risk of radon gas in low doses is minimal. Very good.

    No problem at all. We can live with the controversial discussion at this point (despite the fact there is a lot of other evidence about positive facts of LDR; Jim cited a lot of it). All of our patients know about it (so our doctors are serious) and the feel the pain relief and the decline in drug consumption. So, the theoretical risk (if there is one) is so low that nobody is able to measure it. To turn it in another way: it´s more dangerous to go by car and this risk can be measured. But regarding this point we have obviously the same opinion that it shall be minimal (if there is a risk).

    About the scientific evidence for the effectiveness:

    Jim, sent information about Prof. Falkenbach´s methaanalysis. Basis for this work are three double blind studies (!!!!!!!!) (and two others which cannot be done double blind) for radon treatments. What evidence are you looking for?

    Evidence Based Medicine does not include only double blind studies. It also includes other scientific evidence and at – lowest level – experience of a greater number of doctors.

    There is a lot of scientific evidence. Research about Gasteiner Heilstollen e.g. was done (before starting the treatment in 1952) for about 100.000 hours by doctors of the University of Innsbruck. In the final paper (recommending to the Austrian Government to declare it as a “natural healing ressource”) the authors concluded that “the Gasteiner Heilstollen is a very strong healing ressource for especially rheumatic diseases, even stronger than all modern (in 1952) treatments …”

    As you might know we are still missing really good working drugs for special chronic (inflammatory) rheumatic diseases (or drugs with a mortality risk of 1/500 per year of use).

    Patients who come again do feel a pain reduction and then can reduce their drug consumption. Theese are thousands of people.

    Do you think 50% of the Austrian Association of Ancylosing Spondylitis Patients (and a great part of the German too) are patients of ours, if they for themselves don´t have any “evidence” and just go for a placebo?

    You might call tham all dumbasses. I guess you aren´t a patient having pain the whole time and knowing what a 100%pain reduction for 9 months says to you ….

    Otherwise you would be able to recognise that human beings are built to complicated to treat everything with “double-blind-controlled-evidence-based-treatmens” (medicine just hasn´t got it). As I told you a great part of actually used medicine hasn´t got double-blind evidence and doctors do use it, because they have to use: otherwise they wouldn´t have treatments for a lot of illnesses.

    So, you (!) would be a very bad doctor! I prefer to work with those who are able to listen to a patient, that´s still the only method to really help them (besides all evidence they have to take into account).

    So take your sentence:

    “Now, whether it “significantly

  5. Wow. *Now* I know why Les was sometimes a bit scarce with new posts in the last months. He was digging himself deeper into this thread wink

  6. Pain has real causes and is real to someone feeling it. It can be blocked through distraction. There is an article in the August issue of Scientific American on Virtual-Reality Therapy.

    I saw that article: very cool and personally interesting to me.  I have a chronic pain disorder and can attest to the reality of pain that has no apparent cause.  The fact that pain does respond to cognitive therapy shows that it is subjective.  I did not mean to imply such pain is not real!  My own experience tells me otherwise.

    As for pain that does have an obvious physical cause, I once saw a film of a Chinese woman having her gallbladder removed using only acupuncture for anaesthesia – apparently she really believed it would block pain.  Or it really did, in some way we just don’t understand.  She seemed to be in no discomfort at all, chatting with the surgeon.  It was mind blowing.

    There is a lot of scientific evidence. Research about Gasteiner Heilstollen e.g. was done (before starting the treatment in 1952) for about 100.000 hours by doctors of the University of Innsbruck.

    I saw a study last week which showed that arthroscopic knee surgery may be associated with a placebo effect.  But thousands of surgeons do those operations every year, and would strongly defend the efficacy of their practice. 

    Of course this is one study that needs to be confirmed, and it only relates to one chronic ailment (knee osteoarthritis) but it sure makes you wonder how many accepted treatments amount to a cognitive therapy (a class of therapies which includes but is not limited to the placebo effect).

    This has been a really interesting thread!

  7. Jim Even if you just look at the antioxidant effect, how many pounds of blueberries would you need to eat to have an equivalent effect?

    Going beyond blueberries—this is not quite (fully) on the subject under discussion, but isn’t proper nutrition essential to the operation of the immune system? Wouldn’t it be an essential component of treatments where you are trying to enhance its operation?

    DOF I have a chronic pain disorder and can attest to the reality of pain that has no apparent cause.  The fact that pain does respond to cognitive therapy shows that it is subjective.

    Sure. I was really just looking for an opportunity to make a post about the article. I had surgery in June 2002, and a few days before I was scheduled to go in, an alternative medicine Doc (non MD) introduced me to guided imagery. Simply put, you listen to a recording that invites you to relax (deeply) and then asks you to imagine a positive output for your treatment. There are specific to pre-surgery, surgery and post surgery to name just three.

    The day before I was due to check in, my anxiety started climbing. The pre-surgery track helped me to settle. Pain may not have been involved, but I think this a good example of a subjective process.

    Although the IV drip was my main battery in controlling pain, the post-surgery track was useful adjunct. There is one track that invites one to imagine an endorphin drip, with the objective finding, perhaps, several hours of pain relief. Although, I listened to that track out of curiosity, I (fortunately) I didn’t need that one.  So, I can’t say whether I found it effective or not.

    (made)

  8. P.S.: let me finally post one German saying (it is a basic principle of medicine). I´ll put it in German and will try to translate it:

    “Wer heilt, hat recht.”

    (“Who heals is right”)

    Christoph

  9. P.S.: let me finally post one German saying (it is a basic principle of medicine). I´ll put it in German and will try to translate it: “Wer heilt, hat recht.

  10. The one that heals is right?  Seems odd for German saying.  I would have expected something more along the lines of “Macht bildet nach rechts.”(pardon my German) or “Might makes right!” Just based on the track record of such famous doctors as Dr. Heinrich Berning, Dr. Viktor Brack, Dr. Carl Clauberg, Dr. Auther Dietzsch, Dr. Arnold Dohmen, Dr. Finke, Dr. Erwin Gohrbandt and hundreds of others.  I think we would all agree they were not acting in anyone’s best interest but their own.

    Would you, as a medical practitioner, advise one of your patients to attend a ‘laying of hands’ service that has been attested to heal the same ailments that the Radon mines have?  There are literally thousands of testimonials available as to their effectiveness and no published papers that I can find stating any harmful side-effects.  Does that make Rev. ‘Billy Bob Nelson’ right also?

  11. I have been amazed at the number of references to acupuncture which have arisen in this debate.  Just for the record, I founded the first academic Acupuncture Study Group in 1972 soon after joining the medical faculty at the USC School of Medicine, and quickly realized that it was a neurological phenomenon, primarily mediated thru the Autonomic Nervous System and its cutaneovisceral and viscercutaneous reflexes, neurologic activities which are still largely unknown to both Occidental and Oriental physicians.  Furthermore, since acupuncture had documented efficacy in infants and in animals, it did not appear to have much dependence on suggestability or placebo effect.  I can send a reference and report from JAMA to any interested parties.  Unfortunately, I still have not achieved my goal of establishing an Acupuncture Clinic in Needles, CA, but I did unearth the fact that acupuncture was first written up in 1826 in the Southern Medical Journal by Wm. Markley Lee, followed by a report in 1836 by Bakke in the Boston Medical & Surgical Journal (forerunner of the New England Journal of Medicine) and in 1896 was touted in JAMA by a Professor of Surgery and soon thereafter endorsed by the Father of American Medicine, Sir William Osler.  It does not require an empty head to maintain an open mind.  Gerald Looney, MD

  12. decrepitoldfool and deadscot,

    of course we shall study the effects (and there are a lot of studies as I told you already, beside the listed double blind studies nobody until now has commented on a lot of older studies; so it´s not true to say, there is no evidence) and the mechanisms (and there are indicators and good therories how it is working), but not knowing everything about a treatment is not a reason to stop treating people. Doing it would mean to erase more then 50% of practised medicine.

    I am sure your mentioned ‘laying of hands’ service has not got 100.000 hours of investigation by universities etc. The difference between 1950 (at this time there was no doubt the treatment is working; 1000 doctors per year came to see how it is working) and today is only a difference in scientific standards. But interpreting Evidence Based Medicine in a way that only double blind studies are accepted evidence is definitely wrong. Some people in this thread do it this way.

    How can you decide as a practioner about “Do no harm

  13. And yet, Gerald, acupuncture remains a borderland science by most standards. I wonder why that is? Oh yeah, those darn drug companies and their secret agreement with the Government to suppress anything that isn’t drug related therapy! My bad, I forgot. Though I give you kudos for quickly figuring out exactly how acupuncture works when so many others who have studied it haven’t been able to conclusively determine if it even does anything. Bravo to you!

    Christoph, you should know as well as anyone that the placebo effect is not only recognized by Medical Doctors, but one of the tools of the trade. If you tell a Doctor that you’ve been rolling around naked in Jell-o for four hours a day to treat your arthritis he’s going to ask you if it helps and if you say yes then he’ll tell you to keep doing it. Why? Because that means your problem is probably psychosomatic and you’ve already figured out your placebo for it and it isn’t a particularly dangerous “treatment.” It doesn’t mean he’s going to tell all his arthritis sufferers to roll around naked in Jell-o, though.

    As you can probably tell by now, I don’t have to worry too much about my regular readers. The folks around here tend to think for themselves and when they are curious they will go out and dig up the data on their own and it looks like they’re finding the same conclusions I have on the topic, if deadscot is any indicator. They don’t just take my word for it and I wouldn’t have it any other way because I fully recognize I could be wrong. By the same token, they’re not likely to simply take your word for it either and I bet that must be really frustrating for you guys. This isn’t a group that’ll just roll over because you’ve got a couple of studies that “suggest” a benefit which you then proclaim to be conclusive proof and you’ll probably find your efforts here to be largely wasted, but by all means continue to post if you wish.

    As Elwed has pointed out, you guys are doing more harm to your cause than good in terms of convincing anyone around here. In part because your tendency to latch onto the smallest bit of supporting evidence makes you sound like the Creationists who drop in from time to time and do the same thing to support their arguments. No scrap is too small if it supports your standpoint, but the mounds of contrary studies amount to nothing as far as you’re concerned. This is what is known as a “confirmation bias,” but then you probably already knew that.

  14. I am writing from the ONLY country in the world that has TOTALLY dismantled it’s nuclear arsenal.  I am a medical physicists who have devoted my live to the study on radiation on the human body and have a PhD to show for it.

    Do I really know if low doses of radiation is good or bad for you, NO!

    What I do know is that there are plenty of evidence that contradicts the LNT theory and I am convinced that the radiation phobia and over regulation is costing the world a lot.

    Cameron has shown an inverse relationship between lung cancer and radon levels in houses in the US.  The US dockworker study shows similar trends and recently a study conducted in Taiwan has shown that people living in apartments made from radio active steel, accidentally included during the construction, had statistically significant LOWER levels of ALL malignancies.  Very powerful arguments.

    So does it help to sit in a radon mine?  Will I go there? 

    If the food and company is good, yes.

    To summarise, I believe that as with most other agents harm at high doses does not nessessarily translates in harm at low doses and often the reverse is true.  However malignancies is a multi modal process and certain individuals (or for that matter organs) may well be sensitive to radiation and thus will have a lower “tollerance” this may be especially true for children. Fortunately I do not suffer from any of these debilitating conditions mentioned but would probably try any cure when in such a situation and if it helps (placebo or not) I will go back!

    People using expletives to bring across their points leave me cold.

  15. Les, sorry, you don´t get what I mean. Probably my English is to bad to explain to you the difference between your (and you are not alone) purely scientific approach (which doesn´t solve 100% of the problem) and practised medicine.

    That´s the nature of endless discussions …

    Christoph

  16. Cameron has shown an inverse relationship between lung cancer and radon levels in houses in the US

    1.  I don’t think it was Cameron.  I believe it was Cohen.
    2.  Cohen’s study was an ecologic study, which demonstrates correlations that—may—indicate causal relationships.  Ecologic studies are not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination.  Cohen has admitted this himself, but—insists—that his own ecologic study is the exception to the rule.  Needless to say, not everyone agrees with Cohen’s purportedly unbiased assessment of his own work.  (Hey, I worked in purportedly!  Now if I could only work in pejorative, denigrate and invective, I’d sound -hella- smart!)
    3.  Cohen’s ties to the tobacco lobby tend to make me a little bit suspicious.  Of course the truth, even when it comes from the mouth of a partisan, or an asshole, is—still—the truth.  So I don’t reject Cohen’s study simply because I don’t like his affiliations, but it—does—make me wonder.  After all, the tobacco industry had all sorts of science backing up their claims that smoking was not a significant health risk.

    just because you’re paranoid. . .

    It seems to me that the Japanese doctor’s studies are probably more relevant, if the goal is to establish a -causal- link between radon exposure and biochemical changes.

    In the meantime, if I feel the need for more radiation I’ll sit closer to my television.

  17. “It wasn’t until Patricia Lewis’ second reply that anyone provided anything in the way of a supporting reference specifically with regards to potential benefit from radon exposure and I found the study she cites to be interesting reading.”

    Les, except your comment “be interesting reading” I do not find any further conclusion about two double blind studies which were cited by Jim and Patricia? Which kind of evidence would you like to have?

    Christoph

  18. I’m in.  I live in the US and me and my husband are going to MT next May.  I have FMS. I will sit in the caves but I will not allow him to.  He has asthma and other ailments. I am wondering how you could base your facts without first trying.  I’m sure you don’t want to try? No?  Do you have have FMS?  I suppose not!  Are you on about 6 different meds that don’t work?  Don’t sleep at night?  Restless legs? A twitching eye?  Constant pain?  An injury that just won’t go away? Depression?  You think you have a hold of it?  I don’t think so.  You’re speaking out of your ass.  Sorry.  You’re writing this article as though you speak for us all.  I am willing to take the chance.  I am scared, but, brave at the same time as this is such as challenge in my life.  Much greater than the FMS, oddly enough.  I challenge you to to take the journey with me.  I’m only 39.  Believe me, FMS has taken over a greater portion of my life; this journey will be worth it’s weight in gold….to me.

  19. I am wondering how you could base your facts without first trying.

    Same way I don’t have to shoot myself in the head with a gun before knowing it would probably be a bad idea to do so. Sure, I might survive and it’s even possible it could clear up my sinus problems, but the risks outweigh the benefits. It’s called common sense, though it seems not to be so common anymore.

    Do you have have FMS?  I suppose not!  Are you on about 6 different meds that don’t work?  Don’t sleep at night?  Restless legs? A twitching eye?  Constant pain?  An injury that just won’t go away? Depression?  You think you have a hold of it?  I don’t think so.

    I have my fair share of ailments, but certainly nothing that would justify sitting around in a radioactive mine soaking up toxic gasses. Somehow that just seems counter-productive.

    You’re speaking out of your ass.  Sorry.  You’re writing this article as though you speak for us all. I am willing to take the chance.

    No ma’am, I’m only speaking for the intelligent folks. You dumbasses are free to do as you please.

    I am scared, but, brave at the same time as this is such as challenge in my life.  Much greater than the FMS, oddly enough.  I challenge you to to take the journey with me.  I’m only 39.  Believe me, FMS has taken over a greater portion of my life; this journey will be worth it’s weight in gold….to me.

    Fear drives many people to do foolish things that they think are brave, but are really just bad judgment run amok. Trading one problem in for another just as bad problem is a pointless exercise, but then again, as I said before, you have the right to do idiotic things if you so wish to. Far be it for me to stand in the way of someone making money off your stupidity.

  20. Hey Jill – Les doesn’t have FMS but I do and am familiar with the symptoms you mention except the twitching eye.  I am also all too familiar with doctors who do not have a clue.  Please don’t let your pain and fatigue (and your frustration with your doctors) make you vulnerable to quacks.

    Here is a strategy that has brought great improvement to my life.  It has been far more effective than any medicine so far. 

    The page I just linked also has some very good associated links at the bottom – scroll down.

  21. May I add some views on this long lasting interesting subject :

    1. Recent English studies show NO health incidences (cancers)on children living for years in high levels of radon regions.

    2. I suspect TOO MANY epidemiologic studies including lung cancer passive-smokers living with
    smokers and arguing : “look, it’s from radon !”

    3. I have been performing, as a professional health & safety consultant, a lot of radon detection in houses with weekly average radon levels up as high as 600-800 Bq/M3. Most clients living in the same house for several decades.
    The only lung cancers case met there were from addicted smokers.

    4. Because my clients were definitively not sick from radon, less than 1,5 % of the proposed radon remediation measures were implemented.

    5. I’ve met many happy pensioners spending good
    time at Gasteiner Heilstollen (what a name). Seeing them “before and after”,it’s really, really
    hard to believe it’s just placebo !

    6. I’ve heard (if this is true, that’s amazing)that Ukrainian people still living within the radioactive zone of Chernobyl are actually in some
    better health conditions than the ones having been displaced and now starving miserabily in sinister collective buildings far away the “zone”.

    So, should we live in fear of Radon, or should we invest in a radon mine right now ? smirk

    Hollistic Chap

  22. You had me considering the possibilities of your claims until you got to number 6. With that one you pretty much destroyed whatever credibility you might have had. Next you’ll be telling me the healthiest place to live is the reactor chamber of a nuclear plant.

  23. Thank you for your friendly welcome, les.
    I am not going to play irony like you.
    I ask a question (Am I allowed to ask questions ?)
    about something I heard when I recently visited Kiev in Ukraine.
    I am waiting for rational comments like “true, for the following reasons…” OR “not true, for the following reasons…”.
    Carl SAGAN was saying :it’s not because something is not scientifically proven, that it’s not existing”. Could be : “it’s not because it’s sound stupid that it is untrue”.
    So : Back to Number 6 – I am now waiting for confirmation or contradiction. I suppose this is
    the purpose of your very rich and interesting forum.  hmmm Hollistic Chap

  24. Fine. If have no stake in this debate, so how about…

    1. Recent English studies show NO health incidences (cancers)on children living for years in high levels of radon regions.

    Citations, please. “Recents studies show” carries as much weight as “as everybody knows…”

    2. I suspect TOO MANY epidemiologic studies including lung cancer passive-smokers living with
    smokers and arguing : “look, it’s from radon !

  25. Answers to Elweddridsche :
    1. Childhood Cancer Study, June 20, 2002 by prominent cancer specialist Sir Richard Doll

    2. More people in the scientific community are
    expressing these doubts. More case by case testings should be done, having this possible confusion (passive smokers not sick from radon but from… smokers) in mind.

    3. I agree with you : there is a lack of study
    about this.

    4. Why any remedial measures at all ?… Well,
    I first honestly tried to implement these proposed
    by our scientific autorities. And then I stopped.
    Stop loosing time and money on 1,5% remediation requests !

    5. It’s difficult to understand what you mean
    by “argument from incredulity”. Please, be more
    specific.

    6. Okay, that’s nice from you to consider this
    “farfetched claim”. Now, digging on the Net, I
    found an article going a little bit in that way.
    It’s from Tim Radford, Science Editor, THE GUARDIAN – Issue September 2005, the 6th, under the title : nuclear news 1.
    I went to the photoblog you advise : incredible !
    surprised

  26. Okay, having done my duty as a self-appointed referee I’ll leave the combatants to do their thing.  Whenever a wonder cure is proposed, the proponents have to demonstrate correlation and causation; for the long laundry list mentioned in the opening post I’m not holding my breath.

    Oh, the argument from incredulity – “I can’t believe this is just a placebo effect”.

  27. On the question of radon’s association with lung cancer, I’d like to explain why that is the relevant cancer.

    Radon is a noble gas, which is the radioactive daughter of radium, which is found as a naturally-occurring element in our soils, concrete, and bricks.  Using a standard dose assessment tool (such as the RESRAD Code), one will generally find that the dose attributable to the radium in the soil and concrete is negligible compared to the dose that will be attributable to the radon it produces.

    The radon, because it’s a noble gas will be released from the soil/concrete/brick matrix into the indoor atmosphere, where it is then inhaled.  In addition, the radon in the air will continue to decay into its daughter products, and depending on the dust content in the air, those daughters will also be available for respiration.  In fact, the primary dose actually comes from the inhaled radon daughters, not from the radon itself.  This dose is specifically to the lung tissue, hence the association with lung cancer.

    Other oral/nasal cancers could theoretically have an association with radon, but at much lower numbers than the lung cancers, which are already epidemiologically challenging to identify.

    Barbara L. Hamrick

  28. Just for further clarification, the dose from the inhaled radon daughters is specific to the lung tissue, because the dose is related to the alpha particle decays taking place in the lungs.  Alpha particles, because of their mass, will not travel very far in tissue, so the tissue into which they are initially deposited (in this case the lung tissue) will be the recipient of the alpha energy.  It is the energy deposited that causes the damage.

    Barbara

  29. Thanks, Barbara. So from what I gather:

    If it’s alpha decay, the radon isotope effectively fissions into an ejected helium nucleus and a lead isotope, which in turn might be stable or not. If it isn’t, the question about the decay mode arises again, and so on…

    Alpha particles being big, heavy, and slow don’t penetrate deeply, so exposure to radioactive radon gas should obviously affect the skin and whatever parts of the lung come into contact with inhaled air. I would guess that radon itself wouldn’t be trapped within the lungs, but the decay products might accumulate – question is, are these of clinical concern?

    To make a long story short, I can see that radioactive radon would affect skin or lungs, accounting for a subset of the original laundry list. Of course, if it cures a condition on merit of its radioactivity, then informally put what does it hit just so hard to affect a cure without the longterm risk of cancer? I suppose it’s a thresholding problem…

    All told, count me dubious. Even if there is a statistical correlation, the causation part seems tricky to me.

  30. Let me answer to your latest comments by a translated summary of a German written book (“Radon as medicine; Therapeutic Effectiveness, Biological Effects and Comparative Assessment of Risks”). The book as a whole will be translated into English. It was written by 6 experts in the field, two of them were leading raditation protection officials in Germany for two decades.

    Christoph Koestinger,
    Gasteiner Heilstollen

    Brief Summary of the Results

    Controlled clinical trials, carried out as far as possible as prospective randomised, placebo-controlled double blind trials, have shown that radon treatment is an effective means of providing long-term pain relief and enables a reduction in the use of medicines; and its effects remain significant many months after the end of the treatment when compared with patients who were not given radon. The lowering of the cellular immune response as a result of the cell apoptosis by low alpha particle doses and the subsequent release of anti-inflammatory messengers is clearly the molecular and cellular mechanism guaranteeing the long-term success of this treatment. The radiation protection authorities believe that these amounts of radon do not trigger any side effects, as the doses of radiation used are below people’s average annual natural exposure to radiation and within the breadth of possible variations; and this level of exposure must be pitted against the undesirable effects of non-steroid anti-rheumatics, if drugs are used to treat the illness.

    Summary of the Results

    1.Results from 5 controlled clinical trials on the effectiveness of radon treatment in treating degenerative spinal cord illnesses, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis (Bechterew’s disease) are available. 3 trials with warm radon baths were carried out as prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled double blind trials; in the case of the two trials in the warm radon underground gallery, two groups were treated in just the same way apart from the radon treatment. The target parameters of the trials were pressure pain thresholds, pain intensity, functional restrictions and drug consumption. All the trials showed significant success lasting several months after the end of the treatment.

    2.A meta-analysis of the effect of radon on the pain parameters in the pooled data on 378 patients showed that there was no significant difference between the radon treatment and control groups immediately after the treatment phase. During the following period, however, the level of pain measured in the patients treated with radon was significantly lower: after 3 months (p = 0.02) and after 6 months (0 = 0.002).

    3.Contraindications not caused by radon in radon treatment spas are primarily the result of the heat in warm baths or warm underground gallery treatments for patients with heart/circulation problems. 

    4. Because of some irritation caused by radiation in the cellular and subcellular areas, no radon applications should be administered to patients with acute inflammation, except acute attacks of Bechterew’s disease. Although the exposure to radiation in all the radon balneological treatments is significantly lower than the average annual natural dose of radiation of 2.4 mSv (see point 7), radon treatment should only be used with children and young people – because f their higher sensitivity to radiation – if the possible health risk of treating the illness with drugs is greater than the hypothetical risk of exposure to radiation.

    5. The therapeutically effective agent in treating chronic inflammation pain with radon is the alpha radiation in radon and its short-lived daughter products. In the case of bathing treatments with warm water containing radon or treatments in warm underground galleries and radon gas baths, radon daughter products are deposited on the epidermis. Radon is also absorbed by the bloodstream by diffusion through the skin and after being retained for a short period in the tissue supplied with blood, it is eliminated through the lungs. In the case of warm treatments in underground galleries and radon gas baths, radon is also absorbed through the respiratory system. The dose in the epidermis after e.g. 10 baths each lasting 20 minutes and a radon concentration of 1,600 Bq/L in the warm water is estimated to be approx. 2 mGy. The corresponding number of alpha particles penetrating the epidermis is about 80 per mm². So only a very small fraction of all the cells is involved in the primary   reaction of the alpha radiation with the tissue. However, these have strong cellular reactions because of the high linear energy transfer of the alpha particles.

    6. According to the latest evidence, the easing of pain provided by radon treatment in the case of chronic inflammation is based on a lowering of the cellular immune response in the inflamed tissue. The results of experiments and physiological observations point to a molecular and cellular reaction, which begins with apoptosis, the programmed cell death of individual skin cells or cells in the lung tissue, and leads to a reduction in inflammatory macrophage and neutrophilic activities and leucocyte migration as a result of anti-inflammatory cytokine signals, dendritic cells and T-helper cells. This effect, which is well known when patients are exposed to ultra-violet B and or given inflammation treatment with x-rays, is also being confirmed increasingly by the direct observation of cytokine production and the lowering of the cellular immune response. The increased biological effectiveness of the alpha radiation in comparison with x-ray treatment and the inclusion of neighbouring cells by what is known as the “bystander effect

  31. According to these latest detailed informations from C. Koestinger, it seem very difficult to further contest the effectiveness of Radon therapy.
    Furthermore, Germans and Austrians have a long practical experience about these cures, as well as beeing far advanced in accupuncture and homeopathy therapies – cures that work, despite all the contempt from blunt “rationalists” !

    BUT, what seem more a source of contest than the radon therapy are the residential and annual exposure to radon. This exposure is touching millions of people and we are left in great expectation with one main question : do we need
    to worry or not ?

    And the autorities – the ones edicting the warnings – are finally of very little help because
    they are glued in their own contradictions.
    On the one hand, they incit people to “seal their
    homes” to save energy and offer money compensations for these improvements(at least in European countries)…
    On the other hand, they urge to ventilate homes to
    release excess of radon.
    Inept contradictions !

    And as I was saying earlier, many epidemiologic studies could be suspected of a net lack of professionalism, by including passive smokers as beeing “victims” of radon, instead of beeing victims of… smokers living under the same roof !

    How would we trust these so-called “experts” ?
    confused   Hollistic Chap

  32. “Hollistic” writes…

    According to these latest detailed informations from C. Koestinger, it seem very difficult to further contest the effectiveness of Radon therapy.
    Furthermore, Germans and Austrians have a long practical experience about these cures, as well as beeing far advanced in accupuncture and homeopathy therapies – cures that work, despite all the contempt from blunt “rationalists

  33. To Les.
    “Touché” ! for my pseudo : a silly mistake I did not see.

    I will not divert to other topics. Just one word about homeopathy and acupuncture (those “evil” words to you): try to convince the multi million of “homeopathoholic” people that it is not working because it is unproofed… or the one billion of Chinese that they waste their time for more than 2000 years !
    For me, only acupuncture saved a paralysed leg.
    No more comments !

    The WHO ? – I appreciate the WHO and I refer to them very often for their real expertise.
    This said, I hope that their project will involve
    every seriousness that we are expected to benefit from a scientific body.

    As far as the figures about the numbers and rates of deaths from radon itself are concerned, I am ready to accept them as conclusive, providing that
    somebody could explain these figures really scientifically… After 4 years, I am still waiting in vain.

    I agree : not all homes have problems with high levels of radon build-up. But, at what level should we worry ? If it is as low as 100 Bq/M3 as
    you suggest, than opening a window is OK… and not enough, because, first you need to leave it open quite long to evacuate. And second,you need to instal a small ventilator to extract the radon.
    And don’t forget that radon also “climb” in walls
    and stay there more easely (again, depending on the wall compound). I knew and practised all this
    when I had clients’ requirements. I have no more
    requests and the remediation business of radon in
    Europe doesn’t make a living for the remediators.
    Moreover, radon levels could “skyrocket” at night, in winter, in heavy storms, etc.
    Just “opening a window” is a bit “simple minded”.
    You need to add bars (do you want robbers to come in and radon to come out ?), ventilator, etc…
    Well, you need to convince people that there is
    a problem. And that’s far more difficult than the
    remediation itsel !

    I am not trying to convince you, Les. It’s just impossible. Don’t worry !
    wink Holistic Chap

    I wanna modify now this “L”

  34. “Hollistic” returns…

    I will not divert to other topics. Just one word about homeopathy and acupuncture (those “evil

  35. “Holistic” back on a single “L” !

    Well, we agree that it’s absolutely possible to combine isolation and ventilation in modern houses. The “bars” in front of windows are needed in too many places now… or something else dissuading entries from robbers. One can also dig circular holes in walls + an extracting FAN, but according to my own experiences, you need to calculate right both the numbers and diameters of holes, as well as the power of the fan .Again, it’s quite a large market for “remediators” like me, if the people got concerned, what they are not at this time.

    I’ve lived in the early fifties for 6 years in Stamford, Connecticut. I was a little boy and I remember our neighbors were shocked when we locked our doors at night. Coming from Europe after WWII, we discovered a friendly America.
    I wonder, if we could dare the same confidence in
    the same neighborhood, today. Things have changed
    so much in our world, alas (not to include Aliens
    “en plus” !)

    Your site is very clearly organized and I appreciate the qualities of people frequenting this topic. I wanna have a look at your other topics, as well. LOL
    Holistic “Fan”

  36. Ventilation is not a big issue.  Put a bathroom exhaust fan in the basement, run the duct to the outside wall like a dryer duct.  Not to mention sealing the basement walls and floor.  It’s fairly widely recommended that you open your house up once or twice a year to let the air turn over and get rid of the chemicals that can accumulate in household air. 

    Not to mention that exhaust fans in bathrooms are good to get rid of the excess humidity and keep mold at bay.  Plus, if you keep the doors closed, it’ll help exhaust the radon released from the water you’re cleaning yourself with.

  37. I would like to answer to two of Les´ comments:

    Les: “Again, you had me up until “homeopathy.

  38. P.S.: latest “Radon in homes”-studies: The risk is from smoking, compounded by a synergistic effect of radon for smokers. Without smoking, the effect seems to be so small as to be insignificant.

    For smokers, the modification of their homes remains an option, of course, but they should at least be told that a more effective (and cheaper) way of avoiding the effect of radon is by not smoking.

  39. About latest PS from Christoph : “Radon in homes”-studies: The risk is from smoking, compounded by a synergistic effect of radon for smokers”.

    I believe he his damn’ right and that is going in favor of confirming my fears that some if not many “scientific” studies have joyously and definitively incorporated smokers and passive smokers in their studies
    It should be a time consuming task, but reviewing protocols and means of some of these studies could show interesting gaps and negligences !

    Now, could anybody comment on this ?
    I have heard (from doctors and nutritionists in
    Belgium, England and Ukraine) that the antioxidants compounds in different sorts of cabbages have some protective effects against radon, because these antioxidants have anti-cancerous action (this is quite certain) and they
    have a protective action on the thyroid (sensitive organ when irradiation occur).

    I am not an “Evil Devout of the Brussels’ Sprout”
    and I know that eating too much cabbage produce “collateral counter-gases damages”,
    meanwhile my above question is a serious one (as everything in this Blog).
    question 
    Holistic Chap

  40. Come visit us here in Vienna, DoF.  It’s not quite that cold, and the cabbage soup is good…[/cabbage]

  41. Interesting thread LOL

    SO my take on a synopsis LOL

    Radon may help certain immune system diseases but the research is far from complete and while showing promise it is far from real proof in a clinical sense.

    The drawback to the therapy is the possibility of developing a cancer down the road.  This is fairly remote chance for non-smokers but a smoker should steer clear of the radon gas.

    Interesting that one of the main treatments for RA and AS now are the TNF drugs and a listed side effect is lymphoma cancer and/or drug induced MS. AKA Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade.  So you take a chance on cancer as well with an FDA approved treatment. These drugs also cost 20K to 70K per year and they only work for about 50% of those who try them.  For many without Insurance these are not even an option.

    Interesting choice.

  42. Thanks Les for posting an interesting dilemma and thanks to all for there responses. 

    Based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere, I’m sold on giving it a try. 

    I have AS and am heading to Bad Gastein… I’ll be the judge if it works for me.

  43. Dear Auzivision,

    thank you for your comment.

    Maybe just send me an e-mail to christoph.koestinger@gmx.net to get in touch directly. So I can send you some more information before you start your travel form U.S.

    Kind regards

    Christoph

  44. And thus we see the unscrupulous taking advantage of the gullible in action. It’s almost like watching a nature documentary.

  45. Dear Les,

    do you think 10.000 patients per year (75% have had more than one radon therapy) are “gullible”?

    Do you think it is “unscrupulous” to communicate medical questions before a patient takes a travel from the US to Europe …?

    I think you don´t want to get it, so I don´t try to convince you. But please don´t use words like you have used above. That might be “non-serious” …

    Best regards

    Christoph

  46. do you think 10.000 patients per year (75% have had more than one radon therapy) are “gullible”?

    Just because lots of people do it doesn’t make it smart or credible.

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