Nuclear fears spark demand for iodine pills: How they protect from radiation

March 15, 2022

What can iodine tablets do and what should you keep in mind? TODAY asked Dr. Leigh Vinocur, an emergency doctor in in Baltimore, Maryland, and a national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

How do iodine pills protect the body from the effects of radiation?
It’s all about trying to prevent thyroid cancer.

“Our body, especially our thyroid gland, is very greedy for iodine,” Vinocur said. It’s needed to produce the hormones that regulate the body’s energy and metabolism, the American Thyroid Association noted.

Iodine will enter your body if it’s in the air that you breathe. But during a nuclear explosion, radioactive iodine is released, which will also be absorbed by the body. “Once you have the radioactive iodine in your system, it’s constantly spewing out radioactive particles and atoms,” potentially leading to thyroid cancer, Vinocur said.

That’s where iodine tablets come in. They can saturate or fill up the thyroid, preventing radioactive iodine from getting in.

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