Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2008
Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2008


Pain Free 1-2-3!

by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD


Natural Treatment of Osteoporosis and Breast Disease and the Recurring Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency



Iodine Deficiency: An Old Epidemic Is Back


Iodine intakes (estimated 'by urine output) dropped by -50% from 1971 to 2001.5 This is occurring for several reasons:


Iodine deficiency with goiter has historically been widespread in the US (especially in the Great Lakes region). This is why iodine was added to salt. The current RDA for iodine is -150 mcg/day .. Much of this still comes from salt.

Unfortunately, most of the salt use in food processing does not have iodine, and people are using less iodized table. salt at home because of the misguided medical. advice (except for those with heart failure) to avoid salt. People who eat more salt live longer.


Until recently, a lot of our iodine intake was also from wheat (- 25%). Unfortunately, flour mills have switched to using bromides instead. Bromides in flour were banned as being toxic in the UK in 1990 and in Canada in 1994, but the FDA still allows their use in the Us.


As iodine and bromine (and fluorides) are all related chemically (called halides), they can act as competitive inhibitors to each other. Because of this, we are seeing both iodine deficiencies from decreased intake and from competitive inhibition from increased bromine and fluorine.


Another problem is that the addition of large amounts of unfermented soy (for example, soy. milk, soy cheese, soy protein added to food) inactivates the enzyme thyroid peroxidase and can cause hypothyroidism. This is less of a problem with fermented soy products like tempeh and tofu.


What Are the Implications of Iodine Deficiency Coming Back?


         An epidemic of thyroid problems. Bromides, which may block iodine function, are implicated in many thyroid disorders (bromides are reported to be 50 times higher in the thyroid tissue of thyroid Cancer patients). Low iodine can contribute to an increased risk of both an under or overactive thyroid.


         Iodine plays a key role in breast tissue health, and breast tissue from women with breast cancer has lower iodine levels than that from healthy controls? This effect is so marked that women with hypothyroidism (which frees up more iodine for breast tissue use) actually have lower levels of breast cancer. I will add, though, that inducing hypothyroidism is being used to treat a number of cancers, so other issues are likely also at play. Nonetheless, women in Japan .twho get much more iodine in their diet) have a two-thirds lower risk of breast cancer than those in the US. lt is probable that low iodine is a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Our foundation is planning a study that involves adding high-dose iodine(410S.loporal tablets a day - see below) to the treatment protocol of women with breast cancer.


         Low iodine may increase the risk of heart disease. For a review of this issue, see full/2S/1/1.


         Low iodine may also contribute to fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). A study showed that those with low body temperature and fatigue felt better on iodine (1S00 mcg a day) - even though their temperature did not rise with treatment. It is reasonable for those with chronic fatigue, CFS, and fibromyalgia to try added iodine for 3 months to see if it helps.


The accuracy of iodine testing has not been confirmed to my satisfaction, and I find that it often works best to treat clinically based on symptoms and then see if it helps. Much as we like to have a piece of paper that gives definitive answers (lab and X-ray results), these results, sadly, are often not reliable." I would simply treat without testing those who. have:


      breast cysts, tenderness, or cancer. I consider these markers for iodine deficiency


      CFS or fibromyalgia


      thyroid disease or thyroid cancer


      low body temperature (under 98.0 Fahrenheit).


If you prefer to have lab confirmation, Dr. Kent Holtorf is using urine iodine testing from Nitek and subsequent treatment with iodine when law. He estimates that about 50% to 60% <Ire low, and about 20%,to 30% very low. Dr. David Brownstein, a wonderful physician who. wrote the book Iodine (available at, does an iodine-loading test discussed in his book, which also shows about 95% of folks he tests to. be low: The question with iodine testing is haw one defines "law," and I personally am not eager to do a test that does not affect how I treat.

Both simply treating without testing or doing lab testing are reasonable options: and a good case could be made for treating everyone who has fibromyalgia or CFS; unexplained fatigue, or breast disease (cysts, cancer, or tenderness) with iodine for 3 months to see if they improve without any testing.


Iodine Supplementation

We used to use Lugol's solution (a mix of iodine and iodide), but this is messy, irritates the stomach, and can mildly stain teeth. A much preferred option is to use lodoral (from Optimox) 1 tab a day (12,500 mcg iodine per tablet a high dose). Some doctors are using 2 to 4 tabs a day, but these higher dosages are best done under a holistic practitioner's supervision, as they may suppress thyroid 'functiond and cause significant stomach irritation. Although there is a concern about thyroid suppression from high iodine, this is not seen at a dosage of l lodoral a day (if yoy look at the actual studies as apposed to people simply speaking from no data). An additional benefit high dose iodine may flush bromides out of the time, resulting in patients' being healthier and iodine over time.


Two cautions:

1.    A small percentage of those with Hashimoto's will occasionally see their symptoms flare when

iodine supplements (even in multivitamins). This usually goes away over time, and the iodine is

helpful. Many who use high-dose iodine like that they see less sensitivity in these folks starting high dose of iodine instead of a low dose.

2.    For those with iodine allergies, I would not supplement. Having said this, I have never seen anyone who had an allergic reaction to X-ray dyes supplements - but better safe than sorry.

Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

      Eat seafood, which tends to be high in iodine -especially seaweed, such as kelp. Thus the average Japanese woman who eats a lot of seaweed gets 12,500 mcg of her diet daily, while in the US most are lucky to their 150 mcg a day. This may be why breast cancer and breast cysts are much less common in Japan than in the US and England (the incidence of breast cancer is higher in the US than Japan).

      Cut back on soy products if you eat a lot of them.

      Consider using less fluoride (I prefer that it be in toothpaste instead of drinking water) and bromide (often found in hot tubs to keep down bacteria - other options are available.


Bottom line? For those with CFS, fibromyalgia, unexplained fatigue, or breast symptoms, it is reasonable to take an iodine supplement (lodoral ) once a day for 90 days. After this, if patients feels much better on it, they can stay on it or stop and see if they still need it. They may find that the one course is enough to "fill their tank" and correct any deficiencies. For those with breast cancer, I would one lodoral a day long term, and if working with a holistic practitioner to take 5 a day while waiting for the research to be done. This higher dosage may cause significant and persistent gastritis; so, especially in those with stomach problems, begin with the lower dose and monitor free T4 (the active form of thyroxine) to be sure it is not hypothyroidism.