Resveratrol may help prevent damage from exposure to radiation.

Research suggests that resveratrol, when acetylated to a water soluble form that quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier which reportedly intensifies its effects, might be useful as an anti-radiation medication.56 According to a 2008 study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine under the auspices of the Center for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation, this resveratrol pill might be an effective countermeasure to the dangers posed by radiation spills or radiological terrorism.220 Since potassium iodide only protects against radioactive iodine, and there really aren’t any other radioprotective drugs, this may be very important in the event of a radiation emergency.221

Those dangers were made very real in Japan after the horrific earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011. The damage to the nuclear power plants in Fukushima didn’t just settle there, however. International radiation monitoring stations have picked up airborne trace radioactive emissions in Russia, the United States, Iceland, and across the entire northern hemisphere. And that’s not all—one of these monitoring stations (in Vienna) is still picking up emissions from the Chernobyl nuclear plant incident 25 years ago.222

Radiation exposure can cause a number of different illnesses depending on the amount and length of exposure, including:221,223

  • Cancer (especially in the thyroid if exposure is due to a nuclear plant accident or bomb)
  • DNA mutations
  • Burns
  • Radiation sickness
  • Premature aging
  • Death

How Does It Work?

Resveratrol works differently than taking the standard potassium iodide to protect the thyroid against exposure to radioactive iodine, and can protect against damage from radiation of all different types. Radiation forms free radicals in cells that can wreak havoc on DNA, cause membrane damage, and disrupt mitochondrial functioning. The antioxidant properties of resveratrol can minimize all of these effects by:224

  • neutralizing free radicals
  • repairing DNA damage
  • activating the body’s own natural antioxidants
  • reducing inflammatory response to chronic stressors

Evidence of Benefit

Known as cobalt-60, radioactive cobalt is a source of ionizing gamma radiation used in many industries (e.g., medical, nuclear power plants, and even food processing). Exposure may occur from medical testing, improper disposal of nuclear waste, or a malfunctioning nuclear power plant.225

In an animal study conducted at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China, mice pretreated with resveratrol before exposure to 60 Co γ-irradiation survived longer than untreated mice. Tests indicated that resveratrol protected organ cells (such as in the spleen) sensitive to radiation from cell death.226

Results of another study indicated that the resveratrol in peanut oil protected rats exposed to gamma irradiation when administered as a pretreatment. It also helped preserve the calcium in bones, which is typically depleted following radiation exposure.227

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Irradiation to sterilize food; often referred to as cold pasteurization.