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Debate on iodine tablets in the context of a possible reactor accident
If radioactive iodine has been released in the event of a nuclear disaster, iodine tablets offer some protection. The German Society for Endocrinology (DGE) strongly advises against the “precautionary” self-medication on the occasion of the iodine tablet debate in North Rhine-Westphalia.
At the end of May, numerous media reported that North Rhine-Westphalia would buy iodine tablets as a precaution for all pregnant women and minors in the state. They should be distributed to them in the event of a reactor accident to protect them from radiation damage to the thyroid gland.
The background to the measure are the Belgian nuclear power plants Tihange and Doel, which are close to the border and are considered to be prone to failure. However, the experts warn of the consequences of careless use of the high-dose potassium iodide tablets: iodine in these extremely high doses can lead to disorders of thyroid function such as overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism, rapid heartbeat, sweating, weight loss and high blood pressure.
Graves' disease or chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland (Hashimoto's thyroiditis) could also result. Nobody should take high-dose iodine preparations independently to protect them from possible reactor accidents.
If a reactor accident occurs, the authorities will immediately provide the relevant information and recommendations for taking iodine tablets. (pm)