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Fibrocystic Disease of the Breast (FDB)

Fibrocystic Disease of the Breast (FDB) - Potential link to Breast Cancer

Fibrocystic Disease of the Breast (FDB) results from an excess number of cells that grow in the breast/  It is believed that the increase in cells is due to hormonal stimulation during the menstrual cycle, which can be compounded by toxic build-up in the breast (possibly due to overuse of deodorants or from a tight-fitting bra which prevents proper lymph drainage from the breast

To keep the cell count steady, some cells have to be removed each month.   Leftover cells that have not been appropriately destroyed build up over repeated cycles and cause the lumpy, tender breasts, and larger lesions of fibrocystic disease.

~90% of American women have FDB.   Of these women, 40% are unaware they have it (usually detected by biopsy). Most FDB is benign, harmless and has no consequences. However, the longer FDB is present in the breast, the higher the potential risk for development of breast cancer. (Hartmann et al, 2005)

Over the last 80 years, hundreds of publications have confirmed statistical correlations between advanced forms of FDB and subsequent breast cancer

There are grades of FDB.    With some of the cells looking more abnormal than in the benign forms. The more abnormal the cells, the greater chance of these cells becoming cancerous over the decades

Iodine is the trigger mechanism that promotes appropriate cell death

The breasts concentrate iodine when available. Several studies have demonstrated a relationship between low iodine intake and fibrocystic disease of the breast (FDB) both in women and laboratory animals. A sufficiency of iodine eliminates the excess cells, enabling the breast to return to its normal resting state as the fibrocystic disease slowly disappears from the breast.

Check out this lecture by Dr. David Brownstein about iodine and its deficiency relationship to Breast Cancer:

If you discover FDB at the age of 45-55, it is likely you have had it for many years, and there is a significant possibility that the cells may convert to cancer cells. The good news is that it can be cleared up completely with a daily intake of iodine.

Derry, DM, Breast Cancer and iodine Preventing and surviving,Trafford Publishing company, Canada, 2001.

FDB treated with Iodine Supplementation.    In 1993 Ghent and Eskin published a landmark paper on the treatment of severe FDB with iodine supplements. This paper was the result of more than 30 years of research by Dr. Bernard. A. Eskin of the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. First in animals and then in humans, he proved FDB is the result of low dietary iodine. He has also shown that FDB can go on to develop into breast cancer.

(Ghent et al, 1993; Eskin et al, 1995; Eskin, 1970; Eskin, 1983; Eskin, 1976; Eskin et al, 1986)

Iodine addresses potential environmental causes of FDB/ Breast cancer

Pesticides, microbes, toxins, etc.   If a person has enough iodine flowing through the body systems, the toxins cannot do much damage because iodine does an excellent job of deactivating toxins.

Environmental estrogen look-alikes (xenoestrogens) - it is likely that iodine helps eliminate FDB and ovarian cysts at least partly through it's interaction with estrogens. Iodine helps the body to metabolize ESTRONE (a slightly carcinogenic human estrogen) and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (a much more dangerous metabolite of human estrogen) into ESTRIOL, an "anti-carcinogenic" or at worst "neutral" form of human estrogen.

What is the Iodine Dose for FDB?

FDB Prevention.  Based on their studies of iodine in women and female rats, Ghent et al and Eskin have estimated that the amount of iodine required for protection against breast cancer and FDB, is at least 20 to 40 times the amount required for control of goiter. Therefore, the MINIMUM amount of iodine required for control and prevention of FDB is equivalent to 0.1 mg/kg body weight/day (this is the amount used by Ghent et al).

E.g. the minimum daily amount of iodine for a 110# woman would be 5 mg.

With known FDB.   The pertinent question to ask is “What is the optimal amount of iodine that will restore and maintain normal breast function and histology, without any significant side effects and negative impact on thyroid functions?” (In Canada, 1975, Ghent et al tested various amounts of various forms of iodine in three open trials.5% Lugol's solution was used in 233 patients for 2 years in daily amounts ranging from 31 to 62 mg iodine, achieving clinical improvement in 70% of the patients.

Guy. E. Abraham M.D et al “Optimum Levels of Iodine for Greatest Mental and Physical Health”,

Unfortunately, if you have FDB you don't know what type you have without a biopsy. On the other hand, the FDB disappears by taking iodine in adequate daily amounts, so that you are essentially preventing breast cancer from occurring.

The best response for those with FDB was observed with ingestion of about 50 mg iodine/iodide (E.g. 8 drops 5% Lugol's Solution or 4 Iodoral™) / day for several months (the same dose suggested for reversal of the cancerous phase).

Summary of results of iodine used against FDB

- for objective and subjective improvements of fibrocystic disease of the breast in response to various dosages of various forms of Iodine or Iodide. (Vishnyakova et al, 1966; Ghent et al, 1993;

Study Design

# pts


Form of I

Daily Dosage

% of pts. w/clinical improvement

% of pts with side effects

Open Trial


3 years

Potassium Iodide

10-20 mg




Open Trial


2 years

Lugol 5%*

5-10 drops

(31-62 mgI)



Open Trial


5 years

Iodine Caseinate

10 mg



Open Trial


18 months


Solution of


0.08 mg/Kg BW



Double Blind

PL= 33

I2= 23

mean of

191 days


Solution of


0.08 mg/Kg BW


PL = -3%

I2 = 65%




N / A

PL = Placebo, Pts = Patients, BW=Body Weight


Eskin BA et al (1995) Different tissue responses for iodine and iodide in rat thyroid and mammary glands, Biol Trace Element Res.

Eskin BA et al (1986) Etiology of mammary gland pathophysiology induced by iodine deficiency, Frontiers in thyroidology.

Eskin BA (1983) Iodine and breast cancer. Biol Trace Element Res

 Eskin BA (1976 Dietary iodine and cancer risk. Lancet.

EskinBA (1970) Iodine metabolism and breast cancer. Trans NY Acad Sci.

Ghent WR et al (1993) Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg;

Hartmann, Lynn C et al,  (July 2005) Benign Breast Disease and the Risk of Breast Cancer. N Engl J Med 2005; 353:229-237 Online link

 (Vishnyakova et al, (1966) Vestn Akad Med Navk SSSR, 21:19-22.


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