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Iodine Deficiency Still Occurring At Epidemic Rates

by Dr. David Brownstein

At my office, my partners and I have found that iodine deficiency is occurring at epidemic rates. We have tested over 6,000 patients and found the vast majority significantly low in iodine. Iodine is an essential nutrient; we cannot live without it. Iodine concentrates in the glandular tissue. It helps to ensure that the glandular tissue is healthy and maintains a normal architecture. A deficiency in iodine sets the stage for problems with the glandular tissue.

Lugol's Iodine

Which tissues comprise the glandular tissue? The breast, ovaries, uterus, prostate, and thyroid gland all are part of the glandular tissue. A deficiency in iodine can cause a disrupted architecture of the glandular tissue. This can ultimately lead to problems such as cysts, nodules, dysplasia and cancer of these tissues. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of an epidemic rise in cancer of the breasts, ovaries, uterus, thyroid and prostate. I believe iodine deficiency is (in part) responsible for this epidemic rise in cancer and other diseases of these tissues.

However, it is not just cancer that is a consequence of iodine deficiency. If a pregnant woman is deficient in iodine, the fetus will also suffer complications. An article in Nutrients (2011;3:265-273) describes the fetal consequences of iodine deficiency. During the first trimester, the fetus is dependent on the thyroid hormone produced by the mother. If the mother is deficient in thyroid hormone, the fetus’ thyroid will not develop normally and the fetus may be subjected to neurological problems.

According to the article, in order for a pregnant woman to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet both her own and the baby’s requirements, a 50% increase in iodine intake is recommended. Adequate iodine levels are needed to produce thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency in the mother results in damage to the fetal brain which is aggravated by fetal hypothyroidism.

I have been writing and lecturing about thyroid problems and iodine deficiency for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, over this time period, iodine deficiency is still occurring at epidemic rates. I have no doubt that if we do not correct this decline, the increasing burden of illness will lower our standard of living.

Iodine deficiency should be a national health concern addressed by the highest levels of the government. Since it takes 100 years (my estimate) for the government to react, I say that you should not wait; take matters into your own hands. Educate yourself about iodine and have your levels checked. If you are low in iodine, I suggest supplementing with iodine. More importantly, it is vitally important for women of child-bearing age to have their iodine levels assessed before they become pregnant.

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