Iodine is an essential element that is required for producing thyroid hormones, but there is a lot more than this. According to 2016 study performed at the University of Michigan, about 13 percent of all U.S woman are deficient in this mineral.
This means that about 20 percent of all U.S woman are at risk of both breast cancer and thyroid imbalance, and probably you’re one of them!
The importance of Iodine
Iodine has a role in numerous functions in the body. Here is a very short list of some of them:
- Creating thyroid hormones
- Controlling metabolism
- Bone development
- Brain development (especially in children)
- Optimizing energy
- Promoting healthy skin and hair
- Ensuring balance in the endocrine system
- Ensuring health for the reproductive system, including in the mammary glands
- Preventing cancer
Hypothyroidism and breast cancer
Low amounts of iodine in the body can lead to a potentially dangerous condition called hypothyroidism, which means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones.
Additionally, women who have hypothyroidism are 11 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. This is because iodine acts as “food” for the mammary glands, providing tissue integrity in the breasts.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) conducted a study in 2005, which discovered that “Iodine…is bound into anti-proliferative iodolipids in the thyroid called iodolactones, which may also play a role in the proliferative control of (the) mammary gland.”
In other words, this means that iodine can keep breast cancer cells at bay!
In 2008, Bernard A. Eskin, MD, described how iodine actually changes gene expression in breast cancer cells, including the function of programmed cell death. Iodine was also found to decrease estrogen-responsive genes.
Low iodine increases circulating estrogen levels, and given that estrogen inhibits iodine absorption, this is especially problematic. Iodine deficiency also makes breasts more susceptible to carcinogenic action, promoting the growth of tumors.
A word about Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and the inability to create thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.
According to a 1996 study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, antibodies which indicate Hashimoto’s were twice as common in women with breast cancer than in those who don’t have breast cancer. This study clearly shows the link between Hashimoto’s and breast cancer!
The conventional medicine’s answer for both hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s is a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement such as Synthroid. However, you should be aware that besides the risk of atrophy of the thyroid gland, synthetic thyroid replacements often come with harsh side effects.
Moreover, long-term use of all forms of thyroid hormone replacements can lead to higher risk of breast cancer, which is directly related to iodine deficiency for most individuals.
Thyroid health is highly individualized. Please speak with your doctor or natural health practitioner to understand your options before you decide on any kind of thyroid hormone replacement.
Don’t guess when it comes to your health
Getting your iodine levels tested is the first step in determining your thyroid health and your breast health. There are many labs that offer a simple “iodine loading test” that you can do at home.
Also, there are many labs that test for fluoride, chlorine, and bromide at the same time. These toxic substances have been shown to block absorption of iodine in the body.
If testing indicates low iodine levels consult with your natural healthcare provider about solutions. And if you decide to add iodine supplementation to your healthy breast protocol, be sure it comes from a quality source (and this doesn’t mean toxic table salt).
In addition, here’s a simple method that you can try at home to determine if you’re deficient in iodine.
Just rub a little iodine (Lugol solution) on the inner side of the arm (2 to 3 square centimeters), and keep track the time needed to absorb through the skin.
- If the skin absorbs iodine for 8 hours, you have a large iodine deficiency.
- Between 8 and 16 hours, you have a moderate iodine deficiency.
- If iodine begins to disappear after 24 hours, you have enough iodine in the body.