Dried Plums May Help Shield You From Radiation

New research is indicating that dried plums could protect you from bone loss caused by ionizing radiation.

Radiation from the lower part of the electromagnetic spectrum surrounds us;we're practically bathing in it. Visible light, magnetic waves, radio waves, lasers – these are a pervasive, if invisible, part of all our lives.

At the higher, ultraviolet end of that spectrum dwell gamma rays, X-rays and other ionizing forms of radiation, and our cohabitation with these is not always as amicable. By definition, ionizing radiation packs enough energy to strip away electrons from other atoms. And although these forms of radiation certainly have their uses and roles in modern life, it all comes at a cost of some personal wear and tear. Not least among these concerns is bone loss.

Bone loss can lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become more fragile and more prone to breaking. It is estimated that osteoporosis is responsible for more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide each year.

"Bone loss caused by ionizing radiation is a potential health concern for those in occupations or in situations that expose them to radiation," explains Dr. Nancy Turner, who is the co-author of a new study conducted by the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University. But she and her colleagues may have an answer, and it might already be in your kitchen cabinet.

The researchers discovered that dried plum was an effective agent for reducing radiation-related bone damage as well as preventing later bone loss induced by ionizing radiation.

"Dried plums contain biologically active components that may provide effective interventions for loss of structural integrity caused by radiotherapy or unavoidable exposure to space radiation incurred over long-duration spaceflight," Dr. Turner noted.

The study concluded that inclusion of dried plums in the diet may prevent the skeletal effects of radiation exposures either in space or here on Earth.

Good news for astronauts – and cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, radiation workers and victims of nuclear accidents, among others.