The disaster in Japan: utility of melatonin in providing protection against ionizing radiation. Journal of Pineal Research; May2011, Vol. 50 Issue 4, p357-358, 2p. Authors Reiter, Russel J.1 Tan, Dun-Xian1 Korkmaz, Ahmet1 Manchester, Lucien C.
[excerpted] "What is needed for radiation exposures such as that which occurred in Japan, where large numbers of individuals were involved and the radiation persisted over time, is a broadly protective, readily available, easily self-administered, low-cost radiation protector that can be used for days, weeks, or years with little or no significant side effects.
Melatonin, a natural antioxidant that the body normally produces in small amounts, meets many if not all of these criteria. When taken exogenously, melatonin distributes throughout the body where it prevents damage that results from toxic levels of radiation. Its function in reducing molecular and cellular damage from ionizing radiation in both animals and humans is well documented [1–9] and its protective actions exceed those of other commonly used radioprotectors.
"Melatonin has been shown to prevent the death of animals given what would normally be a lethal dose of ionizing radiation . It can safely be selfadministered via any route, for example, orally, sublingually, as an intranasal spray, etc., over long periods at even high doses by means of an easily understood schedule. Melatonin has a long shelf life even at room temperature, can be obtained in pure form, and is inexpensive. The side effects are negligible over a very large dose range, it does not make the individual sick, and no lethal dose has been defined despite attempts to do so in animals.
"When melatonin was compared with amifostine, a well-known synthetic radioprotective agent that must be administered intravenously (unlike melatonin), melatonin was found to be far superior . After recent studies conducted at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the USA, the authors of the paper concluded that _it (melatonin) is an excellent candidate as a countermeasure against radiation exposure_."