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When getting intimate can be dangerous

发布时间:2019-03-07 04:10:01来源:未知点击:

By Rob Edwards LOVERS can be too hot, it seems. Scientists are calling for stricter guidelines to prevent patients treated with radiation irradiating their partners. Thousands of people worldwide are given the radioisotope iodine-131 every year to help combat overactive thyroid glands and thyroid cancer. Their thyroid glands become radioactive and can endanger anyone who is close to them for long periods. Radiologists in Japan measured the contact times and distances between 14 patients taking iodine-131 and 39 members of their families over three days. They then estimated levels of radioactivity in patients that would ensure the doses they gave their family remained below the international safety limit of 1 millisievert a year. In Radiation Protection Dosimetry (vol 83, p 233), they argue that the level of radioactivity recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) below which patients can be safely discharged from hospital—560 million becquerels—is five times too high. The limit should be reduced to 97 million becquerels, they say. Even then, they argue that discharged patients should sleep more than 50 centimetres from their partners “in an adjacent room or twin beds” and should not go near babies under one year old. Only when patients’ radioactivity has dropped to 42 million becquerels—which might take a week or more—should such restrictions be lifted. “The current ICRP safety limits for protecting the family members of patients treated with iodine-131 should be investigated,” concludes team leader Kichiro Koshida of Kanazawa University. But his findings are criticised by Keith Harding, a nuclear medicine consultant at the City Hospital in Birmingham and ICRP adviser. He says that estimating radiation doses from contact times tends to exaggerate exposure,