Nor did 829 pregnant women know that the "nutrition" cocktails they were drinking at a Tennessee prenatal clinic were laced with radioactive iron
. The doctors in charge never let on that the purpose was to measure the amount of radioactive materials absorbed by their bodies.
At Vanderbilt University, pregnant women were given "cocktails" containing radioactive iron
. Some of their fetuses developed fatal cancers as children.
There's another advantage of the cell-based test: Currently, researchers who conduct most human and animal feeding studies of iron uptake have to add a minute amount of radioactive iron
to a food sample so they can track absorption of the iron in it.
The researchers sought particles of iron-60, a radioactive iron
isotope produced abundantly in supernovas but having few other sources in the solar system.
In this regard, the report points to studies in which researchers exposed people to plutonium and other radioactive materials "with no clear therapeutic or diagnostic potential," in which researchers irradiated the testicles of prisoners, and in which pregnant women received radioactive iron
as part of a study on uptake of the metal by the fetus.