Dr. Laurie Marzell N.D., N.C.M.P.

 Naturopathic physician
Certified Menopause Practitioner



Healthy Breasts: The Role of Iodine in Breast Cancer Prevention



One of the most common cancers to occur in women is breast cancer.  Unfortunately, the incidence increases with every year that women age.  The risk for it is higher in women who have a family history.  It is also a higher risk in women who drink alcohol, are thin and have fibrocystic, dense breast tissue.  What can we do about it, and how can we prevent it?

Genetic susceptibility can be tested for now.  This is particularly important for those women with a strong family history.  There are actually many types of genetic susceptibility, and the results would indicate how closely the patient needs to be watched. What else can protect you against this?

Let’s examine one of the most important minerals that can block breast cancer, iodine.

It may surprise you to learn that a simple mineral, iodine, can not only protect against breast cancer, but can actually help fight it.  Research has been done on animals using a substance that blocks iodine attaching to breast cells, perchlorate.  After blocking iodine from breast tissue for 8 weeks, the tissue was examined and found to have developed a precancerous pattern.  When iodine was blocked and estrogen was added, there was less precancerous looking cells, and when iodine was blocked and thyroid hormone added, there were the same precancerous tissue changes present.  This shows that it is really the iodine itself that can protect breast tissue from developing into cancer and not thyroid hormone.  Iodine has been shown to actually kill certain strains of cancer cells that can cause breast cancer, in vitro (grown outside of the body, like a petri dish).

Iodine has also been shown to soften breast tissue and reverse fibrocystic changes, which is a risk factor for breast cancer; in addition to being a condition which often causes women pain and discomfort.

You may recall that women in Japan have one of the lowest rates of breast cancer.  Why?  Visit a Japanese grocery store to get an idea.  Iodine comes from the sea.  The Japanese diet is very high if fish, and seaweed.  I was amazed to visit a large Japanese store with almost as many types of seaweed as there are potato chips in American stores; barbeque seaweed, teriyaki, curry flavored, etc.  For my patients who may be reticent to eat seaweed, I encourage them to buy some granulated kelp and sprinkle it freely into soups, stews, popcorn.

There is a specific type of iodine that works on breast tissue; and that is molecular iodine, or I (2), not iodide, which is an iodine salt, such as potassium iodide.  This type of iodine is the preferred type for the thyroid.  Molecular iodine is found in Lugol’s solution, which is a combination of iodide and 5% iodine.  This is a prescription item, and should not be given unless it is under the order of a physician who is familiar with iodine therapy and is able to monitor thyroid function, which rarely may be effected.

I must make one more point in discussing keeping breast tissue healthy and that is in regards to coffee.  This favorite beverage unfortunately can wreak havoc with breast tissue; meaning it is extremely irritating to the healthy tissue and is probably responsible for a large number of breast cysts and fibrous tissue.  Years ago, when diagnosis and treatment of breast masses was done by extracting the fluid from the breast cysts; one researcher decided to analyze that fluid.  What do you think he found?  Caffeine, specifically from coffee.  A better choice would be green or white tea, which does contain caffeine, but the highly active plant chemicals are protective against tissue irritation.

So, protect your breasts, add some iodine-containing foods to your already healthy diet, drink some green tea, veer away from coffee and alcohol.  If you have severe fibrocystic beast disease, contact a doctor who knows how to reverse it safely with iodine.  Remember the wisdom of the Japanese diet.





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