There’s a medical term ‘Benign Breast Disease’ (BBD) which includes a host of breast problems for women. This category includes any type of abnormal breast tissue other than malignant. One condition includes breast tumors which are benign yet have from the normal breast tissue consistency.
There are a number of cystic conditions ‘lumped’ under the heading of fibrocystic breast disease. Symptoms may include pain known as mastalgia, heat, swelling and obvious tenderness. Pain and changes in breast tissue can be cyclical within the menstrual cycle, often triggered by low progesterone and high estrogens.
Recently there’s been more attention given to BBD being a risk factor for developing Breast Cancer (BC) and rightly so. Several causes of BBD are the same causes or risk factors for BC.
In several upcoming articles I’ll review the medical research from around the world. I spent almost 2 years writing two books, one on the optimization of thyroid hormones and the other on the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and was amazed to find hundreds of articles on this subject of risk factors.
Here is an example of just one of them. The Lancet published an epidemiological study in 1975 which exposed a lower incidence of Breast Cancer in Japanese women compared with women from other parts of the world. The only variable the researchers could find was their higher intake of seafood and sea vegetables rich in iodine. There was a lot of speculation why this might be but it’s really only been over the last 35 years that we have a clearer understanding as to why.
I hesitate to start with the subject of iodine because it is one thing to take a food rich in iodine and quite another to take an iodine supplement. There is danger in this.
So I’ll wait a little and mention two other studies which I believe are very important. They are both similar and prove much the same point. One was out of Pisa, Italy, in 2008. They took 103 women with biopsied ductal cell breast carcinoma and before any intervention or treatment the women were checked for thyroid problems. They were evaluated through thyroid lab tests, physical exams and a thyroid ultrasound.
It turned out that 48% of them had various types of thyroid problems. The most prevalent was an enlarged thyroid gland termed a goiter. The most common cause of a goiter is an iodine deficiency or insufficiency. The less common cause is excess estrogen which blocks absorption of iodide into thyroid cells.
The second thyroid condition found was Hashimoto’s which is inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are a few theories about the cause of Hashimoto’s but the one which is most outstanding is the inflammation of thyroid cells being caused by an increased production of hydrogen peroxide inside the cells. This increased production is due to the hormone TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone which, among other things, stimulates thyroid cells to make more hydrogen peroxide, a process required to convert iodide to iodine. This is necessary for the thyroid to make its hormones.
Normally once thyroid hormones are produced and enter the blood stream then TSH production will subside and so will the production of hydrogen peroxide inside the thyroid cells. But if there’s an iodide deficiency and the thyroid can’t make its hormones then TSH will remain elevated and continue to stimulate the cells to make more and more hydrogen peroxide.
These elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide lasting for years and decades eventually leads to irritation, inflammation and finally some degree of destruction. And as soon as the thyroid cells break apart and release hydrogen peroxide, enzymes and proteins you’ve got the makings for a thyroid autoimmune disease.
So what’s all this got to do with breast cancer and benign breast tumors?
Obviously the lack of iodide leads to various thyroid conditions including hypothyroidism since obviously the thyroid requires specific nutrients including iodide to make its hormones. No iodide no thyroid hormone production.
And so often where there’s a lack of iodide there’s a lack of iodine. Iodine has been proven to protect breast tissue from estrogens, estrogen mimicking chemicals, what are called Endocrine Distrupting Chemical and heavy metals.
Optimal thyroid hormones help to improve sex hormone binding globulin which lowers free estrogens, improves levels of progesterone (low progesterone is a risk factor) and helps to optimize the body’s metabolic rate. A lower metabolic rate causes easier weight gain and the primary source of non-glandular estrogen is fat. Even this form of estrogen stimulates estrogen receptors on breast tissue.
More on these subjects in future articles.
So until then, this is Dr. Alexander Haskell