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From: (Steven B. Harris)
Subject: Re: dope
Date: 27 May 1996
Newsgroups: rec.drugs.misc,rec.drugs.psychedelic,alt.drugs.chemistry,

In <> (Anton
Sherwood) writes:

>Bob Rodgers <> says:
>: ... SOME tobacco MAY contain some slightly increased
>: percentage of radioactive isotopes.  Nobody knows whether
marijuana does or not, and it doesn't matter anyway, because you
get more radioactive potassium from a banana than from a pack of

   Comment: That may be, but it isn't only the amount of
radiation that is important, but also the type and the where it
is delivered.  The alpha particles from heavy nuclides are MUCH
more carcinogenic, rad for rad, than the gamma rays from K-40, IF
they are delivered directly to susceptible dividing cells.  This
requires ingestion, since alphas are very short range, as you
know, and don't penetrate the dead skin layer when coming from
outside the body.  Ingested alpha emitters, however, are far, far
nastier per picoCurie than C-14 or K-40 or even I-131.

   During the Manhattan project, immediate high amputation was
considered the only treatment to prevent death cancer, when
plutonium contaminated a wound.  These contaminations involved
amounts of isotope activity that would have been totally ignored
if coming from contamination by a gamma or beta emitter.  Later
studies in beagle dogs have verified the special cancinogenicity
of plutonium.  The polonium in tobacco is a substance much like
plutonium in that regard, and weight for weight is even more
toxic because of its greater radioactivity (yes, it's a myth that
plutonium is the nastiest and most dangerous isotope).  I don't
know (and nobody knows) whether or not polonium in tobacco is
responsible for a large fraction of the cancer deaths from
tobacco, BUT the idea per se is not crazy.  Remember, the SECOND
leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco is thought to be radon
inhalation, which is exactly the same thing (the radon decays to
polonium, which deposits in the lungs and zaps endothelium there
with alphas).  Again, this cancer causation from radon is thought
to occur at levels of radiation (counts per second) far lower
than you get from the beta and gamma emitters in your diet.

                            Steve Harris, M.D.

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