As any type of cancer, breast cancer is also closely connected to diet. Experts explain that our diet must include sufficient amounts of iodine – a nutrient which besides being linked to thyroid, it’s very important for the health of woman’s breasts. This nutrient is essential for the development of infant’s brain, so it’s protects babies naturally.
That’s why breastfeeding mothers should have enough iodine intake so that their babies can also take it from the breast milk.
However, lack of iodine is not only bad for babies, but also for their mothers and any other woman, since lack of this nutrient increases the risk of breast cancer.
Lack of Iodine and Breast Cancer
If there’s lack of iodine in the woman’s body, the ovaries start producing more estrogen. In turn, higher levels of this hormone circulating through the body mean higher risk of breast cancer and other reproductive cancers. Moreover, low levels of this nutrient increase the estrogen sensitivity in breasts, raising their chances of breast cancer as a result of the increased estrogen levels.
The pioneer in iodine research, Dr. Bernard Eskin, has found out that a breast tissue which is iodine deficient has higher risk of precancerous changes. He also discovered that iodine is able to reverse these changes. According to the lab studies, iodine suppresses tumor growth, and causes cellular death of cancer without damaging the normal cells.
Women in America Today
The reason why breast cancer rates in Japan are 66 percent less than those in U.S. is the difference in the iodine intake. While the U.S. daily intake of this nutrient is considered to be 150 micrograms according to the U.S. Dietary Reference Intake, in Japan this number is almost 25 times higher. This means that an average Japanese should consume between 3 and 13 milligrams of this nutrient a day.
In general, the Western diet doesn’t include the needed amounts of iodine. Most Americans have been taking their daily dose of iodine from iodized salt ever since the 20s. This is due to the government measure to prevent goiter which included iodine added to salt. However, in the past few decades there’s been an anti-salt propaganda which led many women start avoiding salt from their diet. As a result, the rates of iodine deficiency since the 70s have quadrupled.
Another factor that have led to lack of iodine is the environmental toxins. More specifically, halides – a group of chemicals, attach to cell receptors meant for iodine, shutting them out from the cells and preventing the body to absorb and use this nutrient.
Natural Sources of Iodine
To increase your levels of iodine, thus prevent and treat various health problems including breast cancer, you should start adding the following foods in your everyday diet: seafood (lobster, salmon, shrimp, and tuna), unpeeled tomatoes, cranberries, eggs, and navy beans. Still, the best natural source of iodine has always been seaweed – one of the main Japan’s staple foods. You can find this algae in different varieties, especially in dried form at most Asian supermarkets.
One study in Japan has discovered that iodine is more effective in the treatment of breast cancer than the chemo drug fluorouracil, and seaweed has ten times more of this nutrient than any other natural ingredient. You can add dried seaweed when cooking stews, beans, or soups. Another option is to add organic kelp granules to your regular salt.
Although our body can naturally produce this nutrient, it’s good if you consume these iodine-rich foods more often, especially if you have iodine deficiency. This will help you prevent and treat breast cancer.