Iodine: A Forgotten Mineral

Iodine is essential to good health. It’s required by the thyroid (along with the amino acid, L-tyrosine) to create the hormones you need for healthy metabolism. But, aside from thyroid support, iodine’s anti-cancer functions may be one of its most important benefits. Scientific tests using estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells exposed to iodine have shown that they are less likely to grow and spread. Fibrocystic breast disease is also a common concern, and creates swelling, tenderness, and discomfort. In one study, 98% of women receiving iodine treatment were pain-free by the study’s end, and 72% had improvements in breast tissue. (Ghent WR, et al. Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg 1993;36:453-460.)
As it happens, life expectancy in Japan is just over 82 years old, while in the United States it is about 78 years. The infant mortality in Japan is half of that of the United States. And, America faces three times the number of deaths from breast cancer than Japan. Studies note a connection between thyroid abnormalities and breast cancer, and iodine intake may be a factor. Today, one in seven American women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Compare that to thirty years ago, when iodine consumption was much higher, and one in 20 women developed breast cancer. Women in Japan who consume high amounts of dietary iodine have much lower rates of breast cancer and thyroid problems. However, when women emigrate from Japan to the United States and begin eating a Western diet, with its fractional amount of iodine, their breast cancer and thyroid diseases increase dramatically.
Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. Iodine helps rid the body of toxic bromide, chloride, and fluoride – three iodine impostors that attach themselves to iodine receptor sites in the body and are all too common in our environment. That’s one of the many reasons that I believe it is critical that we get high levels of iodine each day. Bear in mind that dosage levels can vary. The thyroid alone needs approximately 5 mgs of iodine per day, but iodine is used by the cells of the breast, ovaries, uterus and prostate as well. Holistic physicians treat fibrocystic breast disease, which causes cysts, nodules and hardness of the breast, with iodine. They’ve also had significant success in treating breast cancer with high doses of iodine. This is also true for the nodules, cysts and cancer that can be found in the ovaries, uterus and prostate. So, a maintenance dosage for an adult would be 12.5 mgs. For the higher the dosage of iodine, recommended by holistic physicians, you’re looking at up to 50 mgs per day. For breast cancer, possibly 100 mg of iodine per day is appropriate, although I would urge you to discuss this with your integrative practitioner.