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Iodine: A Vital Mineral for Breast Cancer Protection

April 12th, 2019

Getting enough iodine in your diet helps reduce the risk of breast cancer

Each year, over 186,000 American women learn they have breast cancer, and about 41,000 lose their lives to the disease. Naturally there is a big focus on preventing and treating breast cancer, but it even so it seems many women are unaware of one essential mineral that can dramatically reduce their risk: iodine. Research has shown a direct relationship between low iodine reserves in the body and increased rates of breast cancer.

Why Women Need Iodine

Iodine is used everywhere in the body and influences the life cycle of cell growth and differentiation. Iodine helps to promote brain development, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, maintain normal heart rhythm, and protect your stomach from harmful bacteria. Iodine is also believed to suppress the growth of tumors and even kill tumor cells.

With respect to breast cancer prevention, iodine’s most important function is to support the endocrine system, aka your hormones. Iodine not only helps regulate the production of key hormones, but also helps promote proper hormone metabolism and ensure hormone receptors are functioning properly.

Thyroid and estrogen are two of the most important hormones related to iodine. Without iodine, the body cannot make the thyroid hormones that are needed to help all your cells, organs, and tissues function properly. Low thyroid also results in diminished immune response, which lowers the body’s ability to fight cancer. The thyroid gland is such a heavy user of iodine that the body’s top storage site for iodine—the tonsils—are located right beside it.

Another large iodine storage site is breast tissue, which is also full of estrogen receptors. Iodine plays an important role in estrogen metabolism, helping moderate the growth caused by estrogen to promote proper breast development, structure, shape, and function. When iodine is not present at healthy levels, estrogen becomes unbalanced and breast tissue can become cancerous. This may be preceded by the development of a pre-cancerous condition called fibrocystic breast disease. The dense, fibrous tissue that characterizes this condition makes diagnosing breast cancer more difficult.

The longer a woman is iodine deficient, the greater her risk of breast cancer will be. Fortunately, this risk can be reduced by restoring iodine to healthy levels.

Are You Getting Enough Iodine?

In the course of the past 30 years, the average person’s iodine levels have dropped by about 50 percent. Some experts point to this decline as a logical contributing factor to the increase in breast and other cancers.

Fortunately, by paying just a bit of attention to your diet it is relatively easy to get enough iodine to meet the recommended daily allowance of 150 ug/day for adults. Common dietary sources of iodine include:

Salt: Table salt is perhaps the most well-known source of iodine among Americans. Iodine began being added to salt in 1924, as part of a national campaign to prevent goiters (thyroid enlargement). Though this measure has been effective in reducing goiters, it does not supply all the iodine you need for optimal health. In fact, only 10 percent of the iodine found in iodized salt is in a bioavailable form that can be absorbed and used by the body.

Seafood: Two servings of seafood per week is enough to provide most adults with enough iodine for their needs. Cod is the best source with 341 ug per 3 ounce serving.

Dairy: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of iodine. One cup of milk provides about 55 ug, while one cup of yogurt has 87 ug.

Eggs: One egg delivers about 23 ug of iodine.

Seaweed: Some types of seaweed are quite high in iodine. For example, 1 teaspoon of powdered kelp contains 3,400 ug. One sheet of nori offers 32 ug.

Want to Learn More?

To learn more about how your endocrine system works and how to keep it functioning optimally despite the stressors of a modern, busy world, contact Renew Youth today.

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