In concert with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, iodine affects several molecular pathways that are part of differentiation and apoptosis in cells. Ongoing epidemiological evidence points to iodine’s role in prevention and treatment of cancers through these effects.
High rates of goiter (iodine deficiency) correlates with higher rates of cancer mortality. This has been known for over a hundred years especially for breast and stomach cancer. Other cancers associated with low iodine goiter conditions include prostate cancer, endometrial, ovarian, colorectal, and thyroid cancer.
Cancer starts with iodine deficiencies just as it does with low oxygenation of tissues with no one looking into the fact that low iodine and low oxygenation of tissues are directly related. Doctors are still scratching their heads wondering why cancer rates have been exploding but do not pay attention to doctors like Brownstein who has seen over 90 percent deficiency rates among his patients and reports other doctors seeing the same.
Dr. Brownstein clearly lays out what we would expect to find in iodine deficient individuals. When iodine is deficient nodules form in key organs leading to pre-cancerous conditions and then eventually to full-blown cancer. He says, “Iodine’s main job is to maintain a normal architecture of those tissues. With iodine deficiency, the first thing that happens is you get cystic formation in the breasts, the ovaries, uterus, thyroid, prostate and, let’s throw in the pancreas in here as well, which is also increasing at epidemic rates – pancreatic cancer. Cysts start to form when iodine deficiency is there. If it goes on longer, they become nodular and hard. If it goes on longer, they become hyperplastic tissue, which is the precursor to cancer. I say that’s the iodine deficiency continuum.”
Brownstein continues, “The good thing about iodine is, iodine has apoptotic properties, meaning it can stop a cancer cell from just continually dividing, dividing, dividing until it kills somebody. Iodine can stop this continuum wherever it catches it and hopefully reverse it, but at least put the brakes on what is happening.”
Brownstein reports three cases of spontaneous regression of breast cancer after women take iodine supplementation in his iodine book. This should come as no surprise as a 2008 paper by Bernard A. Eskin MD showed that iodine actually altered gene expression in breast cancer cells, inducing programmed cell death.
A 2003 study by Ling Zhang showed that molecular iodine caused lung cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis). Interestingly, a 1993 case report describes spontaneous remission of lung cancer in a patient incidentally treated with Amiodorone, which contains iodine (about 9 mg per day).
Iodine may also be affecting the binding of estrogen receptors to the steroid-binding element. Using breast cancer cells (MCF-7 cells), Stoddard and colleagues demonstrated that Lugol’s solution (5% iodine/10% iodide) affected 43 genes involved cell cycle growth, proliferation, and differentiation. Many of the 43 genes are those upregulated by estrogens, implying that the Lugol’s solution interfered with this action and had a net “antiestrogenic” effect on gene expression.
The earlier a cell is in its path toward an aggressive cancer the more likely it is to reverse course and go back to being healthy again. Therefore, for example, cells that are early precursors of cervical cancer are likely to revert. One study found that 60% of precancerous cervical cells, found with Pap tests, revert to normal within a year; 90% revert within three years.
Iodine, Thyroid, Oxygen and pH Connection
Oxygen is our gasoline; our thyroid provides the spark, it is the spark plug the allows the flame of metabolism to be lit. Low thyroid increases oxygen cost, hinders metabolism and forces us to breathe more which increases the oxygen cost of breathing. We may get more energy immediately, which is good, but the oxygen cost is high. Our engine overworks to make up for the “dirty spark plugs” of our thyroid and parathyroid glands. A lack of thyroid hormones leads to a general decrease in the rate of utilization of fat, protein, and carbohydrate. The burning of our foods does not run cleanly when iodine is deficient so we would expect oxygen and CO2 to be affected.
Moreover, low and behold, we find out that the rate of oxygen consumption of human leucocytes is directly related to thyroid activity. Animal studies Barker, 1955 show that the rate of oxygen uptake of many tissues is lowered by thyroidectomy and raised by administration of thyroid hormone. These tissues include liver, kidney and skeletal and cardiac muscle.
Suiciding Healthy Oxygen Levels with Iodine Deficiency
When the oxygen levels in the cells drops below 60%, the respiration process of making energy changes into fermentation and presto we have a cancer cell. Normal cells can turn cancerous, not just because of DNA malformation but also because of oxygen deficiency. Dr. Ma Lan and Dr. Joel Wallach point out that one type of white blood cell kills cancer cells by injecting them with oxygen, creating hydrogen peroxide in the cells.
Thyroid hormones stimulate diverse metabolic activities in tissues, leading to an increase in basal metabolic rate. One consequence of this activity is to increase body heat production, which seems to result, at least in part, from increased oxygen consumption and rates of ATP hydrolysis.
Since living organisms use molecular oxygen only for cellular respiration, the rate of oxygen consumption is directly related to the rate of ATP production. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism arising after early childhood include lethargy, fatigue, cold-intolerance, weakness, hair loss and reproductive failure mirroring drops in ATP production and reduced oxygen utilization.
The most important factor in creating proper pH is increasing oxygen because no wastes or toxins can leave the body without first combining with oxygen. The more alkaline you are, the more oxygen your fluids can hold and keep. Oxygen also buffers/oxidizes metabolic waste acids helping to keep you more alkaline. “The Secret of Life is both to feed and nourish the cells and let them flush their waste and toxins”, according to Dr. Alexis Carrell, Nobel Prize recipient in 1912. Dr. Otto Warburg, also a Nobel Prize recipient, in 1931 & 1944, said, “If our internal environment was changed from an acidic oxygen deprived environment to an alkaline environment full of oxygen, viruses, bacteria and fungus cannot live.”
The position of the oxygen disassociation curve (ODC) is influenced directly by pH, core body temperature and carbon dioxide pressure. According to Warburg, it is the increased amounts of carcinogens, toxicity and pollution that cause cells to be unable to uptake oxygen efficiently. This is connected with over-acidity, which itself is created principally under low oxygen conditions.
Acid Body Conditions and Iodine Utilization
Iodine, which is high up on the atomic scale, requires near perfect pH for its assimilation into the body. Iodine is crucial for proper functioning of the thyroid but the thyroid does not get access to iodine unless the body pH is near perfect, as it usually is in the blood. Body mineral content and balances control the quantity of electricity in our bodies. The speed at which the electricity flows is controlled by the body’s pH balance and in fact, pH and voltage are measurements of each other.
There are complex biochemical processes taking place in the body constantly in an attempt to keep blood pH as near perfect as possible. These are known as the pH buffering systems. These buffering systems need a good balance of minerals to work effectively. If we are getting inadequate mineral intake from the food we eat, we are going to start having problems with our pH balancing systems.
Slightly alkaline intercellular fluids hold 10 to 20 times more oxygen than slightly acidic inter-cellular fluids. A pH 6.0 is ten times more acid than 7.0. pH; 5.0 is 100 times more acid; 4.0 is 1,000 times as acid; and so on. The body pH value tells you how acidic or alkaline your body is relative to a neutral 7.0, and balanced body pH is essential for a healthy body and a major line of defense against sickness and disease.
“Iodine’s a great alkalinizing agent. It can elevate the pH. In those few patients I see with an alkalanized pH, iodine seams to lower the pH in them. Perhaps it’s more of an adaptogen for pH than an alkalinizing agent,” says Dr. David Brownstein. “We’re seeing that iodine, so crucial to good health, may in fact be the ultimate adaptogen,” says Nan Katherine Fuchs, PhD, in her book The Health Detective’s 456 Most Powerful Healing Secrets. An adaptogen is a product that adapts to whatever is needed within the body. Specifically this means an adaptogen promotes homeostasis and stabilizes the processes of the body. It will normalize body functions.
Deficient iodine levels (low thyroid) can be at the base of many illness symptoms, or it can accompany and “hide” behind other degenerative diseases. The list of health complaints consistently associated with an under-functioning thyroid is long and shocking. Conditions include memory loss, depression, infertility, rheumatic pain, repeated infections, skin problems, migraines, anemia, constipation, and poor vision. The routine thyroid tests used today often do not detect low thyroid function.
The spread or metastases of cancer is inversely proportional to the amount of oxygen and the acidity around the cancer cells. The more oxygen, the slower the cancer spreads. The less oxygen and the higher the acidity the faster the cancer metastasizes. Oxygen is the enemy of cancer cells and so is iodine. Research scientists from the Cancer Research UK–MRC Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology & Biology at the University of Oxford have discovered that oxygen makes cancer cells weak and less resistant to treatment.
Systemically, iodine is recognized as an integral nutrient for proper immune function by the Institute of Medicine and as well as the United Nations Nutritional Policy Board. Dr. Rashid Buttar said, “Cancer first and foremost is a problem with the immune system. You cannot have cancer if you have an intact immune system.” Some people believe that iodine is responsible for half of our immune system strength and response.
When we remember that infections cause many cancers and late stage infections go along with late stage cancer, and that iodine kills all kinds of pathogens on contact, we come face to face with the fact that iodine is one of the most useful and essential substances for the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Iodine should be used in high dosages, the higher the better when cancer is in its later stages. It is safe chemotherapy. It is powerful yet impossible, no matter how high the dose, impossible for iodine to compete with the toxicity of radiation and chemotherapy.
One can drown in a bucket of water and there is a limit to how much iodine one can consume. However, the only fear in terms of saving a life from late stage cancer is to not take enough iodine. One can reduce the need for extreme dosages if one hits cancer from many other sides catching one’s cancer in a devastating crossfire of medicinals.
- Stoddard FR 2nd, Brooks AD, Eskin BA, Johannes GJ. Iodine alters gene expression in the MCF7 breast cancer cell line: evidence for an anti-estrogen effect of iodine. Int J Med Sci. 2008;5(4):189-96.
- Panel on Micronutrients, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. 2001 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC; National Academy Press; 2001.
Dr. Mark Sircus
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