There’s a nationwide run on potassium iodide supplements, almost half a world away from the troubled nuclear power reactors in Japan. But many health experts say even if you can get it, taking potassium iodide supplements is unnecessary and potentially harmful. The story from News/Talk 960’s Evan Jones.

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Potassium iodide can help prevent thyroid cancer for people exposed to radiation. That’s led to soaring US sales this week. The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op does not stock the pills, but they’ll take orders, and for the first time in recent years, people are asking for it. Wellness Specialist Dawn Graham says their supplier doesn’t have any to send right now; it is the result of surging  national demand, especially from west coast states. Anyone placing an order, she says, should plan on a wait of at least two weeks.

But many health experts say there is little value — and some serious potential risks — to taking potassium iodide thousands of miles from those Japanese reactors. ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser says risks include development of mental retardation. He says taking the pills makes sense near the Japanese reactors — but nowhere in the US.  And back at the natural foods co-op, Dawn Graham says if you want a natural alternative containing potassium iodide, there’s kelp.