Breast Health and Iodine

For the past 60 years doctors have been taught that iodine was important for the thyroid but nowhere else in the body and only in microgram amounts i.e. just enough to prevent goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency. However, over the past 40 years, research by Bernard Eskin M.D. OB-GYN department at Drexel University and many others indicates that after the thyroid, the breasts and ovaries concentrate the most iodine of all other organs. The rest of the body’s iodine is stored in the fat, muscle and skin. Adequate iodine is necessary for the development of normal breast architecture. Milk from lactating breasts contains four times more of the ingested iodine than the amount taken up by the thyroid gland. Research dating back to the 1970’s indicates a definite relationship between fibrocystic breast disease (affecting two thirds of American women) and iodine deficiency. Fibrocystic breast disease is usually considered a benign condition however recent research shows that the cystic changes in breast structure may be a precursor to breast cancer. Iodine has been shown to be extremely effective in treating fibrocystic breast disease. It is actually the most researched essential nutrient in treating this condition.

The Estrogen-Iodine Breast Cancer Connection

Not only are the ovaries the primary source of estrogens in the body, they also have the second highest concentration of iodine. Iodine deficiency produces changes in the ovarian production of estrogen as well as changes in the estrogen receptors in the breasts. If there is a whole body deficiency of iodine, the ovaries will produce more estrogen and estrogen receptors in the breast increase their sensitivity to estrogen. These changes will increase the risk of developing pathological changes in the breast which can lead to breast cancer. Drs Stoddard, Eskin and colleagues reported in 2008: “We suggest that the protective effects of iodine/iodide on breast disease may be in part through the inhibition or modulation of estrogen pathways. Data presented suggests that iodine/iodide may inhibit the estrogen response through 1) up-regulating proteins involved in estrogen metabolism (specifically through increasing the liver detoxification of estrogens), and 2) decreasing BRCA1 inhibition thus permitting its inhibition of estrogen responsive transcription. These data open the way for further defining pathways impacted by the essential element, iodine, in the cellular physiology of extrathyroidal tissues, particularly the breast.” They are now working to see if iodine/iodide can be used with Tamoxifen or as a substitute for it.

How Much Iodine for Breast Health?

The milligram amounts of iodine researched for fibrocystic breast disease over the past 30 years is over a thousand of times greater than the RDA of 150 micrograms (mcg) established in 1980. The Japanese daily diet of seaweed contains 12-13 milligrams of iodine. In coastal areas the daily iodine intake may be closer to 50 mg. These amounts are enough to give the average PCP or endocrinologist a fit of apoplexy since they are trained to believe that any amounts higher than the U.S RDA standard are “dangerous”. The Japanese have one of the lowest rates of breast cancer in the world. To determine iodine deficiency, the World Health Organization uses a 24 hour urine test as they monitor iodine intake around the world. Research in 2012 in the journal Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes states: “Routine annual urinary iodine determination is recommended and should target type 2 diabetes patients at risk of thyroid dysfunction.” Unfortunately urine iodine testing is not performed by the major laboratories s and doctors are not trained to order it. However there are several specialty labs in the US who do perform the test. This should be done before starting on an iodine program and be supervised by a knowlegable physician.

Recipe for Breast Health Disaster

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1971-74 and 2000 showed that iodine levels have dropped 50% in the U.S. During this same time the amount of iodine related minerals (called halides) such as bromine (Mountain Dew, commercial baked goods, sports drinks, flame retardant in car upholstery and bedding, hot tubs, pesticides) chlorine derivatives such as perchlorate (contaminate in Colorado river water irrigating crops) and fluoride (fluorinated water, tooth paste) all of which block the beneficial iodine effects in all tissues of the body have increased exponentially. The NHANES survey of 1988-1994 indicated that 15% of U.S. women were iodine deficient based on urine levels, i.e. about one in seven women which roughly corresponds to current rates of breast cancer. Medical reports over the past 100 years indicate a relationship between hypothyroidism and breast cancer. Other studies show a two fold increase in breast cancer in women who take thyroid hormone replacement. It is time for a re-evaluation of this misunderstood essential nutrient.

Hunter Yost M.D. practices Functional and Nutritional Medicine in Tucson.

Medical Journals Promote Lifestyle Changes For Cholesterol and Heart disease

You would never know it by watching the TV commercials for the cholesterol drugs but medical reports overwhelmingly recommend lifestyle and dietary changes before the drugs are prescribed. Here is a sample of a few of those articles:

American Journal of Cardiology in 2004, “National guidelines have promulgated therapeutic lifestyle changes as a standard of care in the management of conventional (coronary heart disease) risk factors.”

Journal of the American Medical Association 2003, “Managing diet is the key to treating all common lipid disorders.”

New England Journal of Medicine 2002, “Lifestyle changes and treatment with metformin (a diabetes drug) both reduced the incidence of diabetes in persons at high risk. The lifestyle intervention was more effective than metformin.”

Journal of the American Medical Association 2003, “For most patients, dietary intervention should be the first line of therapy (perhaps for 6 to 12 weeks) before introducing pharmacotherapy for hyperlipidemia.”

Many primary care doctors do not trust their patients to follow recommended dietary or lifestyle changes and will insist that the patient take a cholesterol medicine. It takes significantly more time for the doctor to discuss lifestyle changes than it does to write a prescription. In fact many doctors are unaware of the articles mentioned above and are just as influenced by pharmaceutical promotion, as are their patients.

The low cost treatment of a Mediterranean diet consisting of poultry, fish, minimal red meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes has been well documented in the medical literature to be effective for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. The components of these foods have effects that no medicine can match for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation. Often, if this plan is followed, many medicines can be lowered or even stopped.

These same lifestyle changes are now recommended immediately following a heart attack and are to be prioritized as high as prescription medicines according to the journal Circulation in February of this year.

The low technology approaches documented in the medical journals do not get the exposure of the drug treatments and both doctors and patients continue to be influenced by the advertising especially the tagline, ”when diet and exercise aren’t enough take…” In fact diet and exercise ARE enough in the majority of people if they are given a chance.

Hunter Yost M.D. has a private practice in NW Tucson.

How to lower Cholesterol without Medication

Exactly How to lower Cholesterol without Medication?

According to a report by NDC Health which tracks health care trends, statin drugs like Lipitor and Zocor, although highly promoted on TV, have been stopped after four months by two thirds of people for whom they were prescribed. So why are people stopping their statin drugs? Sometimes it’s tiredness and fatigue, or it may be muscle pains and achiness. A common myth promoted by the pharmaceutical companies and some doctors is that “adherence to statins is easy, but adherence to comprehensive lifestyle changes is difficult if not impossible.” This has not been proven to be true. Dr. Dean Ornish who has shown over the past 30 years that diet and lifestyle changes are just as powerful if not more so than medications found in his study that there was a 40% reduction in LDL cholesterol after one year without medication.

For the vast majority of individuals with a mild to moderate cholesterol problem who do not have a familial lipid disease (i.e. about 70% of all Americans) lowering cholesterol without medications starts with a plant based diet consisting of beans and legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds and soy foods. For people who have documented heart disease with blockages of coronary arteries, they should follow a vegetarian diet. For people with just elevated cholesterol without a strong family history of a lipid disorder, a Mediterranean diet with some lean free range chicken and beef and non-farm raised fish along with other plant proteins, fruits and vegetables is a heart healthy diet. If necessary some proven natural supplements can be added if necessary to help the cholesterol numbers.

Once a person sees how diet can lower cholesterol naturally they are encouraged to make that way of eating a way of life. In our lifestyle program we help people make those food and lifestyle changes. The majority of people don’t want to take a statin drug for ever ( or even longer than 4 months). So call us today and let us help you lower your cholesterol naturally.

Metabolic Syndrome in “Normal Weight” Americans

The Metabolic Syndrome

The medical journal Diabetes Care in 2004 stated, “Individuals in the upper normal-weight and slightly overweight BMI range (i.e. BMI of 24-27) have a relatively high prevalence and are at increased risk of having the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, screening in individuals with normal or slightly elevated BMI is important in the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Normal BMI (body mass index) is 20-24, overweight 25-29 and obese is greater than 30. The article refers to what is called “metabolically obese normal weight individuals”. Metabolically obese means the following criteria:

  • elevated blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl),
  • blood pressure >130/85),
  • triglycerides >150 mg/dl),
  • waist circumference over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women measured at the level of the belly button
  • low LDL below 40 mg/dl for men and <50 mg/dl for women.

So why is this important? Metabolic Syndrome confers:

ü A 2-fold increase in relative risk for heart disease.

ü A 5-fold increase in risk for developing type II diabetes in individuals without established diabetes.

So doctors should be telling their “normal weight” patients who meet the above criteria that they are “metabolically obese” and on the road to heart disease and diabetes. The pot belly, beer belly, baby belly (when there is no baby) and “love handles” are signs of possible metabolic obesity. Metabolic Syndrome is a lifestyle disease and the treatment should not require medications. “All patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome should be encouraged to change their diet and exercise habits as primary therapy” according to the journal American Family Physician in 2004.

Our therapeutic lifestyle program called FirstLine Therapy is specifically designed to diagnose and treat the Metabolic Syndrome through dietary and lifestyle changes. Watch our success story video and call us today even if you are of “normal weight”. Reverse the Metabolic Syndrome naturally to live a long and healthy life.