Besides being important in thyroid function, iodine is required for the normal growth and development of breast tissue. The high level of iodine intake by Japanese women, noted earlier, has been associated with a low incidence of both benign and cancerous breast disease in this population. Evidence links iodine deficiency with an elevated risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.25 Antiproliferative iodolactones in the thyroid may be responsible for this effect.26 Although autoimmune antibodies directed against thyroid peroxidase have been associated with a better prognosis in breast cancer,27 thyroid supplementation may increase the risk of breast cancer28—a subject that remains in debate. In vitro studies have found that molecular iodine inhibits induction and proliferation and induces apoptosis in some human breast cancer cell lines, as well as exhibiting antioxidant activity.29 Benign, fibrocystic breast disease is also associated with iodine deficiency. Blocking of iodine with perchlorate in the mammary tissue of rats has been found to cause histologic changes indicative of fibrocystic breast disease, as well as precancerous lesions.30 Conversely, iodine supplementation has been shown to ease mastalgia. Supplementation with 3 or 6 mg per day of molecular iodine significantly decreased pain reported by patients, as well as physicians' assessments of pain, tenderness, and nodularity in benign breast disease, with a dose of 6 mg per day providing significant reduction of pain in more than 50% of patients.31
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