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Bystander Effect

May 18th, 2011 3 comments

In radiation health – bystander effects have a very specific meaning. It is a real pheonomena which, in some cases might even be positive.

*For the rest of us – bystander has always been thought to be psychological, imaginary or down right ugly with those who were not initially involved in an event becoming involved (and this also brings motivation into question). A negative “contamination” of people who might have been there – and thus believe they are involved. Usually this is detrimental to themselves, the actual event participants/event and the first responser who are trying to bring order out of chaos/bring the incident under control/clean up the mess/figure out what happened.

If I want to postulate – since the effect is real and chemically mediated at the cell, micro and organism level (ok, rainbow trout do have value other than food) perhaps by “bystander effect”is real in people, biologically mediated and has a positive survival effect – at least from a Darwinian perspective.

*(Please note – I have not gone out and done a literature search in the medical, psychological, sociological, anthropological or other discipline. If it is important – or I am completely off the wall – I am sure that one or more of the librarians reading this will not hesitate to set me straight; clarifying all the ways in which I am twisting reality to suit my current rant).

Back to the fish. Take a pool of water. Toss in some fish. Irradiate the fish. Take the fish out. Toss in the Bystander fish. The new fish will be affected by the radiation, even tho they weren’t in the pool at the time. Or – do it another way – take those fish – the original hapless zapped fish and toss them in with new fish in a nice clean pond. The bystanders in the new pond will also have enzyme changes matching the newly introduced fish. Can’t blame free radicals in the water. Radiation induces changes (i.e. energy transfer induces changes) which then can spread through a non-exposed population creating more change.

One of the things that happens is that a mechanism for increased accumulation of heavy metals in turned on in the fish. Rather than continuing work on increasing triggers, I think the scientists need to spend more time on figuring out how to turn some of these phenomena off.

After all, if bystander effect explains what happens to teenagers perhaps there could be a cure for the contagion that seems to flow from one to another without visible means giving them appalling tastes in music and sagging pants.

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