In today’s episode, Marcelo López spoke with Professor Gerry Thomas, a famous pharmacologist with a PhD in Pathology. She is a professor of nuclear pathology at Imperial College in London and an active researcher in the field of molecular pathology of cancer. Professor Thomas, who was at first against nuclear power but changed her mind as her research went on, debunks some myths and untruths that revolve around the subject.
The professor begins by discussing the reasons why people fear nuclear radiation too much, including psychological, historical and contextual aspects.
Then she talks about the health risks that different radiation doses can pose and how we expose ourselves to it.
Professor Gerry Thomas ponders how lifestyle and longevity have led to increased cancer occurrences and how these factors relate to the disease compared to radiation exposure.
The Chernobyl accident, in vogue now due to the production of an HBO series, is discussed in detail by the professor, who studied the subject thoroughly and conducted research on many different groups exposed to radiation – and how the radiation affected each group. She comments that the knowledge gained from studying the event led her to change her mind and to defend nuclear energy as a safe alternative.
Fire helicopter pilots, rescuers and local residents, for example, are groups that have been hit differently by radiation. Professor Gerry Thomas talks about the statistics, the occurrence or not of cancer associated with nuclear radiation and the severity of each case.
The latest nuclear incident happened in Fukushima, Japan, and it was addressed by the researcher who comments on deaths caused by the tsunami and the evacuation process, and discusses the effects of radiation on the population.
Professor Gerry Thomas draws a parallel between the two iconic accidents in terms of radiation level, contagiousness, how they both affected the population, and the immediate and long-term consequences.
What to do in case of a nuclear accident? Professor Thomas gives tips on how to behave in this situation and the tips will surprise many people. They certainly contradict, in part, popular knowledge, but they can make all the difference to the chances of survival and health preservation.