The necessity of Iodine isn’t exclusive to the thyroid, the entire body needs it. You might say that your body requires iodine the way a car requires oil — it’s simply necessary for the entire system to function properly. Many people don’t realize that female breast tissue has a greater concentration of iodine and has a special need for iodine. When breast tissue has low iodine levels, health problems can follow. Let’s take a look at the top six things you need to know regarding iodine and its impact on breast health.
1. Iodine Deficiency is a Problem
Iodine deficiency is a problem that affects up to 40% of the world’s population, including people in America. One of the primary causes is inadequate iodine intake. Food has been a source of iodine but this has been in decline for decades. Bread is a perfect example. Until 1980, iodine was used to condition dough, it was then substituted with bromide, a toxic halogen that offers no benefits and competes with iodine for absorption. Fluoride is another example, it’s a common, toxic halogen that’s present in many water supplies and negatively affects iodine absorption. The decline in iodine consumption has coincided with an increase in breast diseases, certain cancers, thyroid impairment and developmental problems in children.
2. Healthy Breasts Need Iodine
Every cell, organ, and system in the human body needs iodine, and this is doubly true for female breast tissue. Breast tissue has a greater concentration of iodine than the thyroid and the same iodine-transporting proteins used by the thyroid gland.   In healthy breast tissue, iodine offers antioxidant benefits.  Conversely, iodine deficient breast tissue is susceptible to lipid oxidation, a contributor to many diseases including cancer.    
3. What is Fibrocystic Breast Disease?
Fibrocystic breast disease is an extremely common and underreported condition in which hormonally influenced cysts develop in the breast tissue.  The cysts, which can cause breast pain and tenderness, especially before menstruation, are fairly easy to detect. In fact, they’re most often detected during at-home examinations and are often a source of immediate anxiety for the women who discover them and fear the worst — breast cancer. Although fibrocystic breast disease itself is often benign, the New England Journal of Medicine has reported that it is a risk factor for breast cancer. 
4. Fibrocystic Breast Disease is Linked to Iodine Deficiency
Without adequate iodine, breast tissue is susceptible to estrogenic stimulation. That can lead to the production of microcysts, and those can lead to fibrocystic breast disease.  Animal studies have shown, directly, that depriving breast tissue of iodine is an immediate catalyst for fibrocystic breast disease.   
5. Iodine Promotes Breast Health
Although birth control is sometimes used to shrink cysts, many women prefer to avoid its associated health risks and instead opt for iodine supplementation. Not only is iodine safe, but it promotes breast health.  A 1993 study reported that iodine supplementation had reduced indications of fibrocystic breast disease.  2004 research found that 50% of women who experienced breast tenderness due to fibrocystic disease had an improvement in their situation after iodine supplementation. 
6. Iodine is Even More Important When Breast Feeding
A nursing mother needs enough nutrition to support her own needs and to produce milk for her developing child. Iodine is important for breast health and equally important for normal brain development in children. Iodine deficiency is, in fact, the number one cause of developmental problems. Iodine is crucial for a newborn brain and breast milk is the perfect means for supplying iodine to a nursing infant. 
Are You Getting Enough Iodine?
Getting enough iodine is a product of eating foods that contain iodine and, for many people, also taking supplemental iodine. There are several forms of iodine, some are more beneficial than others. There are tests that can determine if you need iodine and if you do, it’s best to compare iodine supplements to make an educated decision as to which is the best for you.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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