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Breast Tenderness: How Iodine Keeps Breasts Healthy

Fibrocystic breast disease is a very common – it is when there are lumps, pain, and changes in breast tissue.  It is non-cancerous, but it can still cause discomfort and anxiety and raise women’s concerns about the health of their breasts.  Many studies show that iodine supplementation has a positive impact on treating the condition. 


Many relate the trace mineral iodine to thyroid health, but believe it or not, iodine is needed by the entire body and is necessary for the entire body to function properly. Something that many do not know is that iodine is greatly concentrated in the female breast tissue — even more than the thyroid. When iodine levels in the breast are low, health issues may happen. Your body doesn’t produce its own iodine so it is essential that you ensure you are consuming enough, either through your diet or by supplementation.


In healthy breasts, iodine provides a host of antioxidant benefits and on the flip side, iodine deficiency can make the breast tissue more vulnerable to disease and possibly even cancer, specifically breast cancer


The fact that 70% of the global population is iodine deficient is concerning especially when we consider that iodine has so many functions and concentrations in a variety of tissues.


What is Fibrocystic Breast Disease? 

The symptoms can vary from woman to woman. In general, the symptoms are: 


  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • A lump or lumps in one or both breasts
  • Cysts
  • Dense breast tissue 


These cysts are known to cause quite a bit of pain and tenderness in women and are very easy to detect on self-examination. The pain may even fluctuate with menstrual cycles, making certain times of the month more uncomfortable than others. While many women fear the worst when they feel a cyst formed in their breast, and often fibrocystic breast disease is benign the New England Journal of Medicine reports that fibrocystic breast disease is a risk factor breast cancer. 


Iodine is an Effective Treatment


The vast majority of women who experience breast tenderness from fibrocystic breast disease had lessened symptoms once they begin supplementing with iodine. 


Iodine’s main job is to maintain the normal architecture of the glandular tissue. 

The first sign of iodine deficiency is cystic formation in the glandular tissue.  If iodine deficiency continues, the cysts become hard and nodular.  Over time, the tissue undergoes hyperplasia - this leads to the last step which is cancer formation. The good news is that iodine supplementation has been shown to halt this progression and in many patients reverse it. It almost always works to effectively treat fibrocystic breast disease. 


Progesterone is a Potential Treatment 

There are many studies that suggest progesterone plays a role in preventing and treating fibrocystic breast disease. Vaginal progesterone has been shown to have a greater positive impact on symptoms. 


Here are a few ways it may work:


Reducing Cyst Formation: In fibrocystic breast disease, the excessive growth and multiplication of cells can lead to the formation of cysts and lumps.  Progesterone has an anti-proliferative effect, potentially stabilizing cell growth and reducing the formation of cysts. 


Anti-inflammatory Effects: Fibrocystic breast disease often involves inflammation of the breast tissue, which contributes to pain and discomfort. Progesterone has known anti-inflammatory properties, which can help lead to symptom relief. 


Reduce Water Retention: Progesterone can help regulate fluid balance and water retention, which may reduce breast swelling and alleviate symptoms. 


Additional Supportive Measures

Heat therapy:  Applying a warm compress to the breasts can help soothe discomfort and promote relaxation of the breast tissue. Saunas, or warm baths to promote circulation can reduce pain. 


Supportive Bras:  Look for bras that provide proper support and minimize great movement at night can help reduce discomfort. These can also be worn at night to prevent pain. 


What if You Get Breast Tenderness When Starting at Inner Balance?

Women will often get breast tenderness when they begin hormone replacement therapy and this raises concerns that they need to be checked for breast cancer, or that the hormones have given them the new cysts and nodules.   Typically this is NOT a sign of anything ominous, but rather a sign that you have fibrocystic breast disease that needs to be treated.  Estrogen stimulates the breasts to become more full and this fluid retention can put pressure on existing cysts and fibrosis, which causes the pain.  Regular use of iodine will help reduce the sensitivity of breast cells to the proliferative effects of estrogen.  Within 3 months of HRT and iodine therapy, the vast majority of women report that their breast tenderness subsides substantially or disappears altogether. 


Iodine and Breast Cancer

Iodine plays a huge role in boosting your immune system, as well as inducing apoptosis, the body’s natural way of destroying dangerous, cancerous cells.  Japanese women have low rates of breast cancer and it is has been suggested that it is because they consume high amounts of seaweed, which is rich in iodine. A recent study showed that iodine-rich seaweed was shown to inhibit the growth of breast tumor development.  It also helps scavenge free radicals, as well as provide a strong defensive measure against other diseases including cancer.


The Inner Balance Approach

At Inner Balance, we understand the importance of iodine supplementation for breast health.  We suggest supplementation for you when you start, and help you every step of the way if you experience breast tenderness, or have existing fibrocystic breast disease. 


“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”


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