Monthly Archives: February 2009

Relationship Between Thyroid Disease and Breast Cancer

Relationship Between Thyroid Disease and Breast Cancer

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference:  Giani Jr. Clin Endo Metab 81, 990 1996

Why on earth is there a relationship between thyroid disease and breast cancer?  What’s that about?  This is a controversial topic, but hints at an intriguing role in which iodine is the lynch pin between cancer and autoimmune disease and may explain why we need so much more.

The skinny goes as follows.  If you take an ultrasound to measure the volume of a thyroid gland in a woman with breast cancer, you will find a volume of about 21 cc.  Now, take the volume of a woman with fibrocystic breast disease, and you get a volume of about 14 cc.  A woman with normal breasts has a 12 cc thyroid.  If you take a person with a massive thyroid (a goiter) and give them iodine, it will shrink down dramatically.  So, what really happens is that all of us will have a swollen thyroid when we don’t get enough iodine, and a tiny thyroid is a normal thyroid.  It should be noted that all the women in the above study had normal thyroid blood tests like T4 and TSH.

Now, if you examine women with breast cancer for overt thyroid disease you find that 46% of women with breast cancer have some evidence of thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  Control group women only have 14% incidence of thyroid disease.  Explain that!

Well, here is the explanation, in the form of conjecture.  Iodine was evolution’s first anti-oxidant, as we learned last week.  It continues to function in our cells as an antioxidant.  Its role has expanded to that of a gene stimulator and marker.  It turns genes on and off that are part of the estrogen sensitivity group making us more “resistant” in sum to the estrogenizing effect of our environment (with plastics, BPA etc).  It is known to coat many proteins to help protect us from autoimmunity.  It is also highly taken up by breast ductal cells.  Those are exactly the cells that turn into the most aggressive and incurable breast cancers.   If we don’t get enough, those cells may start running amok.  The connection of iodine deficiency and autoimmunity is manifest in the thyroid-breast cancer connection.  But it has other effects.  Iodine is taken up by the lining of our stomachs (that secretes gastric juices) and our salivary glands, our tear glands, the cells that make our cerebro-spinal fluid.  So, if you do an iodine-loading test (give 50 mg of iodine a day to see how much you pee out) and then collect urine for 24 hours, it takes people 6 months on average before they begin to pee out 95% of what they take in.  That suggests that our bodies really want hundreds of mg. of iodine in reserve, not the 1 or 2 mg. that our thyroid alone takes up.  Maybe our thyroid is only just one of our iodine storage sites.  Of note, the 4000 women in the “Iodine Project” who did the loading test reported feeling better energy, sleeping better, having clearer thinking…. all signs of better thyroid function.

WWW.  What will work for me?  All our glands that secrete things seem to need iodine.  Men have those too.  Do they swell up in men too?  There is very little proof about iodine in anything except breast disease and thyroid disease.  Does this apply to men?  Is it toxic?  How can I get it if I want to give it a try?  Next week.

How to Cure Fibrocystic Breast Disease – Iodine

Iodine #1:  The Next Big Thing?  AKA: How to Cure Fibrocystic Breast Disease

Competency #   16  Minerals

Reference: J of Amer Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 11.  #4. 2006 . D. W. Miller

Iodine.  Remember your mother putting it on your cuts when you were a kid?  It’s in your salt too, which your doctor told you to cut down on.   So you did.  All of us did.  What happened?  Well a variety of things.  First of all, our iodine consumption in the last 30 years dropped in half.  This is an interesting story.  Here’s the basic science.

Iodine is strongly concentrated in blue green algae and seaweed-like kelp.  There is reasonable evidence that iodine was the first antioxidant that allowed algae to make sugar and in turn, produce oxygen.  The iodine prevented the oxygen from damaging the algae, allowing our planet to develop an oxygen-containing atmosphere.   With that, the model was started as iodine being a critical player as an antioxidant.   It should be the 12th most abundant element in our bodies.  Unfortunately, it’s not.  There is virtually no iodine in any soils in the Midwest USA, and in much of the world for that matter.  Deficiencies in iodine turn up most obviously in the inability to make thyroid hormone properly.   Without any iodine, your thyroid starts to swell and get larger and larger, making a huge swollen gland that can look like a water balloon in your neck.  That’s called a goiter.  Adding iodine to salt made goiters go away in Western society, though you can still find folks with goiters in India and China and Africa.

But iodine isn’t just taken up in thyroids.  Almost all of our tissues take it up, particularly our glands that excrete things.   Our salivary glands, our breasts, our ovaries, prostates, pancreases, stomachs all take up abundant iodine.   And here is what’s interesting.  The Japanese eat 100 times the iodine we do because they eat so much seaweed.  They eat 3-15 mg a day.  In America, we say you only need 160 micrograms a day, and 1.2 mg a day is way too much.  (That’s because we have only looked at the thyroid)  Interestingly enough, the Japanese have the LOWEST rate of breast cancer in the world, and virtually no fibrocystic breast disease.   And to take the story a little bit further, did you know that you can make rats develop fibrocystic breast disease by completely depriving them of iodine?  And reverse it by giving them the iodine back.

And did you know that if you give women iodine, 3-13 mg a day for 6 months, you can reverse fibrocystic breast disease in women?  Did you know that fibrocystic breast disease is correlated with developing breast cancer?  And did you know that the Japanese, on immigrating to America and eating an American diet start to develop breast cancer, just like other hamburger eating Americans who shun seaweed?

WWW:  What will work for me?  This is over the top.  80% of American women have fibrocystic breast disease and 30% say they have pain from it off and on.  Do we have the makings of a whole new way of treating fibrocystic disease of the breast?  Maybe.  There is no evidence that 10 mg a day of Iodine is toxic.  Next week, more on iodine!  I’m learning.