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Breast Health and Iodine

In June, 2011, the state of Texas enacted new legislation called Henda’s Law. The law requires mammography providers to notify patients, who have dense breast tissue, of the limitations in detecting cancer that may occur with traditional mammography alone.

Dense, or fibrocystic breasts, are a common trait among women who have thyroid disorders. Fibrocystic breast tissue can, but not always, be a precursor to breast cancer.

Dense breast tissue contains very little fat, which makes it difficult for radiologists to discern cancers, since both the dense breast tissue and cancer spots appear white on the test results.

An alternative or adjunct to mammography for women with fibrocystic breasts may be digital mammograms, breast magnetic resonance imaging, ultra sound and breast thermography.

Regardless of the structure of the breast tissue, the frequency of mammograms and the age when they should be started has been re-evaluated by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Due to the ineffectiveness of the testing results and potential for increased risk of damage to breast tissue in premenopausal women, annual mammograms are no longer recommended for all women. The task force now recommends bi-annual mammography screenings, rather than annual tests. And, it has increased the recommended starting age for bi-annual mammograms from 40 to 50 years and to continue through age 74.

While monthly self-exams and medical screenings are valuable tools for detecting breast cancer, there are other steps that can be taken to keep breast tissue healthy.

Iodine is a necessary nutrient to maintain healthy, soft breasts. Iodine deficiency is an epidemic in western cultures. The thyroid gland is the first tissue in the body to absorb the available iodine. However many other parts of the body need iodine to function optimally. As you may have guessed, healthy breasts need iodine. When enough iodine is present, breast tissue becomes less dense and the potential for developing cancer decreases.

Each day the thyroid gland needs 3 mg of iodine to become fully saturated. The current recommended daily allowance of iodine in the United States is only 150 mcg, just a tiny fraction of what a healthy body needs to function cancer free. Iodine in excess of the 3 mg needed by the thyroid, is then available to saturate other tissues in the body such as skin, salivary glands, ovaries, and breasts.

Dr. David Derry, author of Breast Cancer and Iodine, recommends 5-10 mg of iodine supplementation daily through the use of Lugol’s solution. Japanese women consume 8-10 mg of iodine through their diet of fish and seaweed and have a very low rate of breast cancer. It is generally not feasible for western women to consume nearly enough iodine through diet alone.

While it is commendable that doctors and legislators are recognizing that mammograms are not always an effective cancer screening tool for women with dense breast tissue – it is possible to eliminate the dense tissue completely through the use of iodine. I can personally attest to the effectiveness in eliminating fibrocystic breast tissue through the use of iodine. Not only will iodine help your thyroid gland function more effectively, it may very likely decrease your risk for breast disease.
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