Cesium Toxicity

Cesium is an incredibly toxic element that has been unleashed into our environment from nuclear testing and nuclear accidents like the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. 
Sadly, the reactors are still releasing large amounts of radioactive cesium into our environment and reports say that it will contaminate all the world’s oceans in time.

Cesium can be a big causative factor in fatigue because it displaces potassium in the body (1). This interferes in numerous processes that affect energy production, namely suppression of enzymes involved in the energy exchange of cells. (2)

Naturally occurring, it exists in the environment in a non-radioactive, stable form. We are not concerned with this nontoxic form of cesium. Radioactive, unstable cesium is created during the process of nuclear fission (used in nuclear power plants) and is incredibly dangerous to human health (3).

The two radioactive cesium isotopes most notable for their damaging effects on human health are cesium-134 and cesium-137 (3). Cesium-137 is the most dangerous substance released in nuclear disasters like Fukushima or Chernobyl (4).

In this article, we will look at:

  1. How you are exposed to cesium
  2. Symptoms of cesium toxicity
  3. Cesium and fatigue
  4. How to detox cesium

How You Are Exposed to Cesium

You can absorb cesium by eating, drinking, breathing, or making skin contact with cesium or things containing its compounds.

So the good news is that there are relatively few commercial uses for this dangerous metal and its compounds (1). The bad news is that its main commercial use can be extremely dangerous. I’m talking about nuclear energy.

One of the waste products of nuclear power is radioactive cesium. Radioactive cesium is created by the fission of uranium in fuel rods in nuclear power plants. Radioactive cesium is also produced upon the detonation of nuclear weapons (1).

In March of 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan suffered a major accident. It was a result of the Great Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Radioactive cesium was released into the ocean next to the Fukushima plant and the channel of destruction began. Today, 300 tons of radioactive water containing cesium is going into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Cesium-137 dissolves in water. Meaning, it can spread rapidly through the environment, making its way into the water and food supplies consumed by humans (4). This includes the migratory fish near Fukushima. Cesium-137 also has a particularly long half-life of 30.2 years (5).

Due to cesium pollution, tuna and other migratory fish are now contaminated with cesium. Sushi lovers beware! I recommend avoiding large fish from the Pacific due to cesium, mercury, and cadmium contamination.

Another reason the fallout from the Fukushima disaster was so damaging to human health was that cesium compounds could travel long distances through the air before making their way back to the Earth by way of rain or settling due to gravity (6).

Radioactive cesium can contaminate plants by falling onto leaves and coming to rest on their surface (6). For example, Turkish tea crops were contaminated by radioactive Cs-137, following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Also notable: lichens and mosses have been shown to collect and absorb cesium-134 and cesium-137 more so than vascular plants, likely due to their large surface area and exposure to the air (3). Cesium then enters our food chain when animals, such as reindeer and caribou, feed on this type of vegetation. Animals ingest flora contaminated with radioactive cesium (and other radioactive materials); then humans ingest that same radioactive cesium when they consume meat from those animals (6).

It’s also been found that foods that naturally rich in potassium, such as mushrooms and berries, from areas contaminated by radioactive materials tend to contain high levels of cesium-137.

Meats and dairy products from these areas tend to have higher levels of cesium-137 as well (7).

Below is a more extensive list of cesium sources:

  • Fukushima fallout
  • Eating Fish from the Pacific (that is cesium contaminated)
  • Occupational exposure in the nuclear power industry
  • Explosion of nuclear weapons (6)
  • Radiation therapy for certain cancers (6)
  • Accidents associating nuclear powered satellites (6)
  • Radiation therapy for certain cancers (6)
  • Mining and milling of certain ores (6)
  • Flora, including lichens and moss (6)
  • Accidents including nuclear powered submarines (6)
  • Breast Milk (1)
  • Pasteurized milk (1)
  • Contaminated rice (8)
  • Sake from contaminated rice (8)
  • Fungi/mushrooms (9)
  • Contaminated tea (10)
  • Surface soils near Fukushima nuclear site (5)

Symptoms of Cesium Toxicity

Cesium is an incredibly toxic, radioactive metal that causes a plethora of symptoms and health conditions, namely fatigue.

Some of the primary symptoms of radioactive cesium toxicity include:

  • Chronic fatigue (1, 2)
  • Decreased appetite (6)
  • Nausea (6)
  • Diarrhea (6)
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

Fourteen years after the Chernobyl disaster, people living on cesium-137 contaminated lands in Belarus were diagnosed with such severe health problems as (7):

  • weakened hearts
  • gastro-intestinal anomalies
  • chronic blood disorders
  • malfunctioning thyroids

Target organs of potential toxic effects of cesium are the liver, intestine, heart, and kidneys.

Physiological effects of excessive cesium include heart arrhythmias and displacement of potassium from muscle cells and erythrocytes. Cesium is similar in function to potassium in that it helps to keep a balance of electrical charges between the interior and exterior of cells so that they can perform the functions dependent on those very same electrical charges (1).

Excessive cesium may negatively alter cell membrane integrity and cytoplasmic components and cause genetic damage. It may also have significant effects on both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It may cause epileptic seizures because it can share the same receptor as the inhibitory neurotransmitter amino acid glycine.

Let’s talk specifically about the severity of and deadly effects of radioactive cesium. When radioactive Cesium 137, enters myocardial cells, it causes both structural and metabolic changes. This leads to energy shortages and disruption of the myocardial cells’ main functions. These changes also signify that there has been direct damage done to the cardiac muscles, along with damage to organs and the delicate systems that regulate cardiac activity (1). In some cases, death may even occur.

Cesium and Fatigue

Cesium can be a big causative factor in fatigue because it displaces potassium in the body (1). This interferes in numerous processes that affect energy production, namely suppression of enzymes involved in the energy exchange of cells (2).

Dr. Bandazhevsky from the Belrad Institute explains the exact process by which cesium affects heart and energy production best:

“The direct influence of cesium (137Cs) on the heart is due to its selective accumulation within the myocardial cells. This is due perhaps to the intense operation of the sodium-potassium pump. Since 137Cs is in the same atomic group as potassium, it can easily enter into the cardiomyocyte [cardiac cells]. This is accompanied by the suppression of the activity of the important enzyme creatine phosphokinase (CPK), which is involved in the energy exchange of cells: accumulation, transport, and utilization of high-energy phosphates. CPK catalyzes the reversible phosphorylation reaction, which involves the transfer of a phosphate group from ATP to creatine and from phosphocreatine to ADP.” (2)

Dr. Bandazhevsky observed that the decrease in activity of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) indicated serious metabolic defects in the energy metabolism of the heart cells. This is observed in changes of the mitochondrial system, in the form of an increased number and size of mitochondria because they are not working well.

The body produced many more malfunctioning mitochondria in a vain attempt to product more energy. This malfunction is also observed in the changes in the number of intermitochondrial contacts. (2)

How to Detox Cesium

You can reduce the toxic effects of this dangerous metal with regular detoxing and by taking the right, targeted, antagonistic supplements.

The following supplements are potent detoxifiers of cesium:

In cases of cesium poisoning, Prussian blue (PB, ferric hexacyanoferrate) is highly recommended. It swaps potassium ions for cesium ions because of its strong affinity to cesium (11). One study using Prussian blue was found to remove radioactive cesium successfully from water (12).

Because there is still so much cesium pouring into the oceans daily at the Fukushima disaster site, it is feared that all the world’s oceans could become contaminated with cesium. I would caution you to avoid fish from the Pacific at this time. And take precautions to test for and detox cesium, especially if you suffer from fatigue.

Mineral Power to the Rescue!

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Wendy Myers, FDN, CHHC, is a functional diagnostic nutritionist, certified holistic health coach and founder of Live to 110. Her passions include getting you healthy, Modern Paleo, retoxing and detoxing. Discover her Mineral Power Program and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with metal detox.