Recent reports suggest that a lack of iodine can lead to thyroid disease. Although iodine is necessary for thyroid hormone production, it also offers many other health benefits. Iodine is present in every cell of our bodies and has properties that fight bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cancer. It is essential for proper immune function and the normal structure of important glandular tissues such as the breasts, ovaries, uterus, pancreas, and prostate. Dr. David Brownstein, a family physician and the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan, emphasizes that testing and treating iodine deficiency should be a top priority to avoid serious complications.
There’s a Stringent Requirement for Adequate Iodine – Thyroid Health
“If you don’t have enough iodine, you can’t produce vital hormones the body needs, so having an iodine deficiency can lead to a diagnosis of hypothyroidism,” Dr. Brownstein said in a recent interview on Discovering True Health, a YouTube channel and podcast dedicated to health and wellness.
Iodine is a crucial element needed for the production of thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones play a critical role in the healthy development of a baby’s brain and bones during pregnancy and infancy. Additionally, they aid in regulating body temperature, heart rate, and digestion while promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Over time, hypothyroidism also increases the risks of heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
The production of hormones in the thyroid gland requires a daily intake of iodine. Research published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal indicates that the thyroid needs to capture around 60 micrograms of iodine from the bloodstream each day.
When iodine levels are insufficient, the thyroid gland enlarges in an attempt to absorb more iodine. This compensatory swelling is known as a goiter.
According to Dr. Brownstein, studies on rats from decades ago showed that a lack of iodine produced precancerous conditions. Furthermore, laboratory studies using human cancer cells have revealed that iodine has anti-cancer effects.
A review published in the Nutrients journal in 2021 suggests that iodine is one of the oldest antioxidants in living organisms. One of its roles is to scavenge reactive oxygen species, which are potentially damaging molecules. Iodine interacts with and neutralizes these molecules, reducing their harmful effects on cells and tissues. This process may reduce the risk of cancer.
In addition, a review published in the Journals of Nutritional Health & Food Sciences in 2017 suggests that iodine deficiency may be linked to ovarian cysts that can hinder fertility and increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Iodine deficiency can also lead to the development of nodules and fibrosis, which can progress to cancer of the thyroid, uterus, and breast.
Iodine is necessary for the normal development of breast tissue and has been shown to suppress breast cancer cells and tumor growth.
“Studies dating back nearly 40 years ago show that iodine deficiency in rats produce the exact precancerous changes seen in humans—dysplasia and hyperplasia,” Dr. Brownstein wrote in his book “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It.”
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men in the United States, yet there is limited research on the role of iodine in its development.
A study conducted in 2007 examined the potential link between iodine deficiency and the risk of prostate cancer. The results indicated that individuals with higher urinary iodine to creatinine ratios had a 29 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those with lower iodine levels.
It is important to note that the thyroid gland heavily relies on iodine, and a lack of iodine has been associated with an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer, which is the most prevalent malignancy of the endocrine system.