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Iodine Health - Iodine against Cancer

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Iodine against cancer

"My research has shown that after testing over 4,000 patients for their iodine levels, over 96% of those tested are significantly low in iodine."

Dr. David Brownstein

Iodine sufficiency may be the most important preventive measure against cancer of organs normally having a high iodine presence.  

Organs normally having a high iodine content include: the thyroid, breast, uterus, ovaries, endometrium, prostate, stomach, pancreas, colon and lung.  Iodine has been found particularly effective against thyroid cancer and the reproductive organ cancers of the breast, uterus, ovaries, endometrium, and prostate  (Stadel, 1976).

Cities/counties/states with high rates of hypothyroidism (often indicating an iodine deficiency) also have high rates of breast cancer

Iodine induces apoptosis (naturally programmed cell death).   Absence of iodine in a tissue allows cysts to grow and may eventually lead to cancer.


Appropriate and natural destruction of cells that represent a threat to the integrity of the organism.  E.g. cancer cells and virus-infected cells.

Essential to growth and development.   E.g. Fingers form in the fetus by apoptosis of the tissue between them;

The iodolipid δ-Iodolactone seems to be iodine's main mediator for preventing cancer.   This iodinated form of lactone (produced when iodide oxidizes lipids, such as lactone) can inhibit growth and induce apoptosis in human thyroid carcinoma cell lines (B-CPAP cells, FTC-133 cells and 8505C cells) as well as on human breast cancer cells (MCF 7). 


Cancer is roughly divided into two phases, and iodine plays a beneficial role in both

(especially in organs usually having high iodine presence)

(A) The pre-cancerous phase

(The development of abnormal, benign cells)

The first, long-term, pre-cancerous phase, is when normal cells gradually become abnormal cells.    E.g. the discovered breast cancer lump represents the end stage of a slow development over many years. Lumpy, tender breasts, referred to as fibrocystic breasts, can potentially, but not necessarily, advance to pre-cancerous lesions over time.

Fibrocystic beasts - potential link to breast cancer

When normal cells are damaged beyond repair, they are appropriately eliminated by apotosis.   i.e.  the programmed or natural death of damaged, infected or malfunctioning cells.

Cancer cells avoid apoptosis and continue to multiply in an unregulated manner

Adequate Iodine stops and reverses the pre-cancerous stage of the cancer process by causing the natural death of abnormal cells (i.e apoptosis).   This prevents them from becoming cancer cells. Sites of rapid apoptosis in the body are also sites with high iodine levels. Conversely, inadequate iodine in a tissue allows abnormal cells to persist, allows cysts to grow, and may eventually lead to cancer.

An adequate iodine dose to prevent pre-cancer phase (abnormal cells) is around 3-4 mg / day.    One drop of Lugol's solution in water, juice or milk or ½ an Iodoral® tablet (6.5 mg iodine / iodide) should both prevent cells from changing into cancer cells and gradually eliminate pre-cancer cells, so no new cancers can start. It will also kill abnormal cells floating around in the body at remote sites from the original cancer. (Ghent et al, 1986)


(B) The multiplying / Spreading phase of cancer

(a) Cancer cells can multiply and just stay where they are (carcinoma in situ)

or (b) Cancer cells can multiply and spread (tumor)

On average, breast cancer cells double every 100 days, and it takes ~9 years before mammograms can pick them up.

Adequate thyroid hormone (produced by a normal thyroid with sufficient iodine) in connective tissues prevents the spread of cancer cells to nearby tissue.   The amount of thyroid hormone present in tissues controls the strength of connective tissue, which forms a strong sieve-like barrier to the passage of cancer cells trying to spread. (Clark, 1989).   Conversely . . . a low level of thyroid hormone in the tissues (especially connective tissues) allows cancer cells to spread.

-   Presence of thyroxine in the tissues has been amply demonstrated in animal experiments to bring about a tissue environment that is unfavorable to tumor growth and development.    At least as long as tumors remain in the dependent phase.  pdf

1950's article links deficient thyroid activity with cancer rates.   Data from 15 countries in four continents give support to the importance of local factors to account for the known local variations of cancer incidence.    Iodine availability, traced by goiter incidence, appears to be one of such factors.

Adequate Iodine dose to prevent cancer spread?    You should do your own research on this, however, this author has so far found that the available literature indicates a dose of about 50mg iodine/iodide (8 drops 5% Lugol's Solution or 4 Iodoral ®) /day in split doses) according to tolerance, with the goal of achieving whole body iodine sufficiency (~1.5 g) in about 3-6 months.

Iodine -Supplementation

-   Dr. Brownstein used 200 - 300 mg with his prostate and breast cancer patients.   With those having metastases needing the highest dosages.

Additional iodine roles in preventing cancer

Any excess iodine flows into the urine.    Preventing the development of abnormal cells in the bladder and kidney system, and thus also prevents cancers in those locations.

The antioxidant properties of iodides have a role in cancer prevention.    By their ability to markedly quench the high-energy, excited singlet oxygen to its less reactive triplet form, thus preventing singlet oxygen from causing oxidative damage to DNA. (Kasha, 1952; Venturi et al, 2000)

Iodine is a powerful deactivator of toxic environmental  chemical, cancer-causing suspects.  E.g. xenoestrogens, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals;

Iodine alters gene expression in breast cancer cells and induces programmed cell death (apoptosis).  (Stoddard et al, 2008)

Iodine may also kill abnormal cells by the same method it destroys single-celled microbes.    Once the thyroid gland has become iodine-saturated, most of the rest of the available iodine in the body then circulates throughout the body bathing the extracellular fluids found between body cells.  Intra membrane proteins may expose tyrosine when the membrane is distorted by abnormal cell development such as we see in the pre-cancerous forms of fibrocystic breasts. Passing iodine can then react with exposed tyrosine in the cell membrane and denature it.  By disturbing the cell membrane, it can thus kill the cell (this is the same chemical reaction by which iodine in dilute solutions causes the death of single-celled microbes: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa). Healthy vertebrate cell membranes do not have tyrosine on the portion of proteins sticking out into the extracellular fluid.


Estrogen / Iodine Connection  

•  Iodine metabolizes carcinogenic ESTRONE and estrogen metabolite 16-α-hydroxyestrone ==>  “anti-carcinogenic” estriol;

•  Iodine desensitizes estrogen receptors in the breast;

  Iodine reduces estrogen production in overactive ovaries;

Evidence that iodine works against existing cancers


The overwhelming evidence of iodine against breast cancer

Spontaneous regression of breast cancer seen in 3 cases supplementing iodine:

Please visit the following site for more information on research of iodine's antiproliferative effect with cancer:


Supporting evidence for iodine deficiency involvement in breast cancer, fibrosis and painful breasts in patients with fibrocystic breasts 

-    Breastcancerchoices.org lists several of iodine's impressive abilities against breast cancer:

•  Desensitizes estrogen receptors in the breast;

•  Reduces estrogen production in overactive ovaries;

•  Reduces fibrocystic breast disease - which often precedes
breast cancer;

•  Causes more cell death than the chemo drug, Fluorouracil;

•  Prevents rats from getting cancer when fed the breast cancer causing toxin DMBA.


Iodine against lung cancer

Human lung cancer cells with genes spliced into them that enhance iodine uptake and utilization, undergo apoptosis and shrink when given iodine.  Both in vitro and implanted in mice. (Cann et al, 1999)

Metastatic lung cancer case incidentally treated with iodine-containing Amiodorone had spontaneous remission.  Treatment contained 9 mg iodine / day. (Hercbergs & Leith, 1993)

Iodine against prostate cancer

A deficiency of iodine is a known factor in the development of prostate cancer


Mainstream medical treatments are not working

Breast cancer incidence worldwide has increased from 1 in 23 in the mid-1960s to currently 1 in 8, and is increasing by ~1% each year

 Mortality rates not improved with today's technology.   Surgery, chemotherapy, mammography, and radiation have not altered the mortality rate since record-keeping began in the 1920's. 85% of women who develop breast cancer will die of causes directly related to breast cancer.

Radiation and chemotherapy to the breast can affect the thyroid gland.    Radiation to the breast for prevention of local recurrences can affect the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland in your neck is in close proximity to your breast and depending on the angle used by the radiation machine, the dosage used and also how good the machine is at preventing radiation scatter, the radiation can have both short and long term effect on your thyroid gland health. Chemotherapy delivers toxic compounds and can have side effects on many organs including the thyroid gland. The combination of chemotherapy and radiation can lead to clinically obvious low thyroid. (Links, 1991)



Cann Stephen A., van Netten Johannes P.,Glover David W.  (1999) Iodide Accumulation in Extrathyroidal Tissues, Journal of Clin. Endocrinology & Metabolism ; Vol. 84, No. 2821

Clark WH (1989) Tumour progression and the nature of cancer. J Cancer 1991;Smith,T.J. et al, Connective tissue, glycosaminoglycans, and diseases of the thyroid, Endocr.Rev.

Ghent W R et al (1986) Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg 1993; Ghent WR et al, Iodine deficiency breast syndrome. Frontiers in Thyroidology.

 Hercbergs A, Leith JT (1993 Aug) Spontaneous remission of metastatic lung cancer following myxedema coma-an apoptosis-related phenomenon? J Natl Cancer Inst.  18;85(16):1342-3. Link

Kasha M (1952) Collisional Perturbation of Spin-Orbital Coupling and the Mechanism of Fluorescence Quenching. A Visual Demonstration of the Perturbation. The Journal of Chemical Physics.

Links JM (1991) Radiation physics (ch16) and Williams ED, Biologic effects of radiation on the thyroid (ch17), Werner and Ingbar's The Thyroid.

Stadel B (1976  ) Dietary iodine and risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, The Lancet. Link

Frederick R. Stoddard II, Ari D. Brooks, Bernard A. Eskin, Gregg J. Johannes  (2008)   Iodine Alters Gene Expression in the MCF7 Breast Cancer Cell Line: Evidence for an Anti-Estrogen Effect of Iodine. Int J Med Sci.  5:189-196 .  Link

Venturi S et al (2000) Role of Iodine in Evolution and Carcinogenesis of Thyroid, Breast and Stomach, Adv. Clin. Path

DISCLAIMER: The content on this website is intended for informational, and educational purposes only and not as a substitute for the medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of a licensed health professional. The author of this website is a researcher, not a health professional, and shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive or other damages arising from any use of the content of this website. Any references to health benefits of specifically named products on this site are this website author's sole opinion and are not approved or supported by their manufacturers or distributors.

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