No, I’m not going to say ala Anne Coulter, that radiation is good for you. However, the fear of radiation may be good for you. People who are fearful of radiation contamination are taking iodine supplements which have the effect of preventing the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine. Iodine supplementation is not something to be taken lightly, because you can needlessly interfere with your thyroid’s functioning. Having said that, iodine deficiency has been rapidly increasing over the past several decades, so even though fear is driving this iodine supplementation, some people may really need the iodine.
Iodine is readily found in standard table salt, but many people have been cutting back on their salt intake or switching to sea salt instead, which does not contain iodine. Iodine is also found in seaweed and seafood. Mountainous regions have soil that is low in iodine so it doesn’t make it’s way into the crops grown there.
The Link Between Iodine Deficiency and Breast Cancer
Researchers have found a link between iodine deficiency and some forms of breast cancer. From what I understand, iodine deficiency is now considered a risk factor for breast cancer. As iodine consumption has decreased by over 50% since the 1970s, breast cancer rates have increased. In the U.S. Goiter belt (goiter is a thyroid condition linked with a lack of iodine), breast cancer rates are higher than in other areas of the country. A small study of breast cancer patients excreted less iodine than healthy patients, implying an iodine deficiency.
The editors of Breast Cancer Choices, a website dedicated to breast cancer prevention and awareness http://breastcancerchoices.org/iodine.html, sifted through 50 years of iodine research and determined that abnormal iodine metabolism, due either to bromide dominance or a diet low in iodine must be addressed as part of a preventive and therapeutic breast cancer strategy. Iodine is thought to prevent certain forms of breast cancer in the following ways:
- It desensitizes the estrogen receptors in the breast
- It reduces estrogen production in overactive ovaries
- It reduces fibrocystic disease, a disease that is often a precursor to breast cancer*
- It causes cancer cell death, slows cell division and reduces blood vessel growth to tumors
- It has been shown to prevent rats from getting cancer who were fed the breast cancer causing toxin DMBA
Even if you don’t believe the link between iodine and breast cancer has been adequately proven, iodine is an important nutrient that may be lacking in your diet. Iodine plays a critical role in the normal functioning of the thyroid glands. Those glands secrete thyroid hormones that control the basic metabolic rate of the body. Iodine helps optimize our bodies in using up calories, thus preventing us from storing excess fats. Iodine also removes toxins from the body and assists our bodies in effectively utilizing calcium and silicon. Iodine deficiency has been linked to goiters, some stomach cancers, and mental retardation among children.
Iodine supplementation can be tricky, so don’t just do a self experiment and start taking it. Your doctor should be able to help you test for low thyroid or iodine deficiency. In addition, the Breast Cancer Choices website and other websites offer iodine deficiency tests. If you are deficient, then you can take Iodoral under a doctor’s supervision (if you can find it, supplies are very limited due to the run on Iodoral caused by the Japanese nuclear crisis). You can also take kelp supplements which contain iodine. Ask your health care practitioner what s/he recommends.
Some signs of low thyroid include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Sluggish metabolism, weight gain
- The absence of moons on all of your fingernails
- Brittle, dry hair and nails
- Dry skin
A Personal Note About Iodine Supplementation
I have been craving salt (which generally contains iodine) in the most major way for the past six or eight months. I talked to my doctor about it and she nodded her head and made a note in the chart – helpful. I also noticed that my weight which is usually stable was starting to creep up and my skin was even more dry and lizardlike than usual. I started wondering if I should take an iodine test. That same week, I read that iodine deficiency was linked with breast cancer and I met an alternative health practitioner who looked at my fingernails and said I have low thyroid. I carry the gene for breast cancer and have a family history of it, so I’m very interested in anything to do with prevention. Sure enough, I was low on iodine.
I started taking Iodoral a few weeks ago (thanks to the awesome owner of Alpine Apothecary who saved a bottle for me despite huge demand from customers) with interesting results. The moons are reappearing on my fingernails. I’m hungrier than before though my weight is stable. I’m much warmer. The detoxing effect is a bit, how do I say this politely, pungent. So, my system seems to be effectively detoxing, though I wish it would do so in a less aromatic manner. I’m not craving salt anymore and hopefully, my body is doing what it can to prevent breast cancer.
*A Note About Fibrocystic Disease There are other things thought to prevent fibrocystic disease such as cutting back on caffeine, eating a diet low in fat, and believe it or not, wearing a bra.