As a nation we are iodine deficient. In fact, some sources will say 50% or more of the adult population is deficient in this crucial nutrient.
Iodine plays an important role in the health of women’s breast tissue. In the presence of chemicals and enzymes found in breast tissue, iodine has been shown to exert a powerful antioxidant effect equivalent to vitamin C. Iodine-deficient breast tissue exhibits chemical markers of elevated lipid peroxidation, one of the earliest factors in cancer development. Iodine-deficient breast tissue also shows alterations in DNA and increases in estrogen receptor proteins. Coupled with iodine deficiency, this increases circulating estrogen levels, which can substantially increase the risk of breast cancer in women with low iodine levels.
Iodine also helps regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol and contributes to normal immune function. Abnormal cortisol levels and deficient immune function are significant contributors to the risks of breast cancer; women with fibrocystic breast disease may also suffer from elevated cortisol levels.
Iodine is used to treat fibrocystic breast disease, because iodine concentrates in and is secreted by the mammary glands. Normal breast architecture requires adequate iodine, and in a deficient state, the breasts and thyroid compete for available iodine.
When iodine is added via supplementation and increasing dietary sources, studies have revealed anti-neoplastic effects, cancer cell death (apoptosis) and reduction in breast tumors.
Why is Iodine Deficiency on the Rise?
- Low intake of dietary iodine. This is due to depleted soils, as iodine is found in the soil which then affects the quantity in produce. This is also due to reduction in consumption in iodine rich foods as a typical Standard American Diet is high in processed foods like grains and sugars which take the place of iodine rich options. Sea vegetables, seafood like wild caught fish, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, turnips, garlic, and onion are good sources as long as the soil is not depleted.
- Tobacco smoke contains ingredients that inhibit the uptake of iodine into our systems.
- Fluoride and chlorine in our water supply inhibit absorption of iodine.
- Bromide, or bromine, a toxin in packaged food products and fire retardants that we are exposed to daily, blocks iodine from being used by the body effectively.
At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, a visit with a functional medicine doctor can assess iodine levels and hormone balance, both of which are crucial to lowering your risk of breast cancer. Call us today to schedule an appointment!