OK, I’ll admit it - I had lumpy breasts. Fibrocystic breast disease commonly occurs in women diagnosed with thyroid disorders. Iodine deficiency and estrogen balance are the two main factors that link fibrocystic disease and thyroid imbalance. Left untreated, fibrocystic disease may progress to breast cancer.
While my own thyroid disorder went undiagnosed for many years, my problems with fibrocystic disease were clearly evident. My breasts were very dense and lumpy. Finding lumps was a normal occurrence for me, triggering several anxious visits for mammograms and ultra sounds. During doctor exams, she would always comment on the density of my tissue, as would the mammogram technicians. Pain and tenderness were the norm and when I started jogging, I had to do some special improvising to minimize the jostling.
When I look back, it still amazes me that my doctor never suggested my fibrocystic disease could have been linked to a thyroid disorder – I had to make this connection through much research on my own. The only advice I received was to eliminate caffeine and consider using birth control pills. I am not a coffee drinker, but I did try drinking less iced tea. I never found it made a difference and birth control pills just seemed like adding more fuel to the hormone fire.
As I started learning more about iodine deficiency, I realized my lumpy breasts might be eliminated through iodine supplementation. Within three months of taking iodine, my breasts became much softer, lump free and all the pain vanished.
The thyroid gland is the largest iodine user in the body. The ovaries and breasts also need iodine to function properly. When iodine is insufficient, the body becomes susceptible to thyroid disease, fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer.
In his book IODINE: Why You Need It and Why You Can’t Live Without It, David Brownstein, M.D. states “that iodine deficiency is a causative factor in breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.” When iodine is deficient, breast and thyroid cancer cells can divide unchecked. Apoptosis is the process whereby cells die and are replaced with healthy new cells. Iodine deficiency prohibits apoptosis from occurring, thus allowing cancer cells to grow. Dr. Brownstein describes iodine as a “potent antioxidant” and “powerful anti-cancer” agent.
Dr. David Derry also documents the strong connection to thyroid imbalance and breast disease in his book, Breast Cancer and Iodine: How to Prevent and How to Survive Breast Cancer. Dr. Derry also documents the important roll of iodine to preventing breast disease and addresses the roll of iodine in promoting apoptosis.
As Westerners, we are all aware of the low incidence of breast disease in Japanese women. It is not soy that protects Japanese women from high rates of breast cancer - it is iodine. In Japan, the average person consumes 13.8 mg of iodine per day. This is exceedingly more than the 150 mcg of iodine recommended for the American diet. When you consider that the majority of Americans are already iodine deficient, you can see why there is such a higher incidence of breast cancer in the U.S. as compared to Japan.
According to Dr. John Douillard, “If you are on thyroid medication, which tells your body not to uptake iodine, you are at a greater risk for breast and thyroid cancer. It is thus very important to increase your iodine intake.”
It is important to understand that iodine is vital to ensuring healthy thyroid and breast glands. Even if you take thyroid hormones, you still need to include iodine in your diet. Adding iodine may likely necessitate an adjustment in your thyroid medication, but it will also protect you from cancers of the thyroid and/or breasts.
Iodine rich foods include sea vegetables, ocean fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy and cereal. You may also want to consider taking an iodine supplement. I take six drops of Nascent Iodine every day. Further, a green drink powder that contains sea vegetables can also be beneficial. I use a product called Green Vibrance. Whatever method you choose, please address your body’s iodine needs by feeding it what it needs.
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