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.

Natural Treatment for Type II diabetes

The natural treatment for type II diabetes

A commonly prescribed drug for type II diabetes is metformin. It is the first-line drug of choice for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, in particular, in overweight and obese people and those with normal kidney function Its use in gestational diabetes has been limited by safety concerns. It is also used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome, and has been investigated for other diseases where insulin resistance may be an important factor. Metformin works by suppressing glucose production by the liver. Metformin is the only anti-diabetic drug that has been conclusively shown to prevent the cardiovascular complications of diabetes. It helps reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and is not associated with weight gain. So knowing all this why would people still be looking for natural treatments for type II diabetes?

Well, in the February 7, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The conclusion of this study found that “Lifestyle changes and treatment with metformin both reduced the incidence of diabetes in persons at high risk. [however] The lifestyle intervention was more effective than metformin.” The lifestyle intervention was a combination of dietary changes and exercise. So this was proof that a natural treatment for type II diabetes was more effective than the prescription. Wow! Why didn’t we hear about this on TV 24/7 like we do about a host of other drugs? Unfortunately there is no profit in selling a natural treatment like lifestyle changes. So since this is a journal for doctors, why haven’t they told everyone of their type II diabetes patients about this natural treatment.

One reason is it takes a lot of time to explain a diet and lifestyle program to a patient–time that most primary care doctors don’t have. At our clinic we specialize in a therapeutic lifestyle program covered through most insurance. We help people with a natural treatment for type II diabetes, cholesterol and weight problems as recommended in the medical literature. See our website for success story video and call us today. We are accepting new patients.


Medical Weight Loss

The FDA has just approved the first new weight loss drug in 13 years called Belviq (lorcaserin). This is essentially a “new and improved” version of Fen-Phen pulled by the FDA in 1997 due to heart valve problems. On the same day this week of the new drug’s approval, a recommendation against using diet drugs was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Referring to currently marketed diet drugs, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that because of safety problems and a lack of data showing that people can keep weight off after discontinuing diet medications , the task force could not recommend that anyone use diet drugs.


Although an FDA advisory committee that reviewed lorcaserin for medical weight loss voted to approve it, it did so reluctantly, particularly because of widely shared concerns about evidence of heart valve damage in people using the drug in clinical trials. When these last heart valve-damaging diet drugs were banned in 1997, the knowledge of this life-threatening adverse effect was known only after approval. But in this case, the FDA has known before today’s approval of lorcaserin that it could damage heart valves. The agency’s own advisory committee concluded that “[t]here’s probably not sufficient data at this time to rule out a clinically meaningful increase in the risk for valvular heart disease.”

This is hardly an overwhelming endorsement for a new drug for medical weight loss by the FDA. A major medical journal and a government task force advocates against “diet pills” because of serious side effects and no one really keeps the weight off long term when using them. In complicated conditions like overweight and obesity the old mentality of “a pill for an ill” is too simple minded. Doctors and the general public know that the only long term solution is changes lifestyle in food choices that do not cause serious health issues like heart valve problems.

We help many people in our clinic with weight related medical problems like high cholesterol and triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure and body pains related to excess weight. Please see our success story video and the tab for FirstLine Therapy lifestyle program and see how safe medical weight loss can help you.

Cholesterol Reduction Naturally

Ways to help cholesterol reduction naturally

Two new medical studies show that the “low carb” Atkins diet may be harmful for the heart. A June 2012 study from the British Medical Journal followed a random sample of 43, 396 Swedish women aged 30 to 49 completed an extensive dietary questionnaire and were followed up for an average of 15.7 years. The found an additional four to five cases of cardiovascular disease per 10 000 women per year compared with those who did not regularly eat a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. The authors concluded: “Low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.” They further stated, “the short-term benefits of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets for weight loss that have made these diets appealing seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the long term.” Bottom line: there are much safer ways to help cholesterol reduction naturally than “low carb” diets.

In the September 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the demise of the Atkins diet was sounded. The goal of the study was to determine the association of low-carb diets with mortality during 26 years of follow-up in women and men from 1980 to 2006. Evaluating 85,168 women aged 34 to 59 and 44,548 men aged 40-75 in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, low-carb diets were characterized as animal based or vegetable based depending on whether they emphasized animal or vegetable sources of fat and protein. The Atkins Diet promoted animal protein especially red meat such as beef, pork rinds, bacon and sausage with very limited refined carbohydrates and vegetables.

Analyzing the results for women and men, animal protein and fat based, low-carb diets were strongly associated with higher all cause mortality rates including cardiovascular and cancer deaths. However, vegetable based protein and fat diets were strongly associated to reduced all cause mortality from heart related causes and cancer. This is the first time the Atkins diet was studied for its long term effects.

In addition, a recent study reviewed in The New England Journal of Medicine found that an Atkins-type diet “promotes atherosclerosis (heart disease) through mechanisms that do not modify the classic cardiovascular risk factors” such as HDL. A whole foods plant-based diet that’s also low in refined carbohydrates (i.e. white sugar and white flour) can help with cholesterol reduction naturally and may reverse coronary heart disease.