Iodine Treatment of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
One hundred-eight women with fibrocystic breast disease were treated with a preparation containing molecular (diatomic elemental) iodine at a dose of 0.08 mg per kg of body weight per day orally for nine months. Ninety-eight percent of the women were pain-free by the end of the study and objective improvement was seen in 71.8% of cases. Sixty-five percent of the women had a reduction in breast size coincident with clinical improvement. In a larger series of women (n = 1,365) treated with molecular iodine, side effects (usually minor) occurred in 10.9% of cases; these included acne, nausea, diarrhea, hair thinning, hyperthyroidism (0.1% incidence), hypothyroidism (0.3% incidence), skin rash, headache, or transient increase in breast pain (5.7% incidence).
Two other groups of women were treated with Lugol’s solution (a preparation containing 95% sodium iodide and 5% free iodine) and iodized casein, respectively. The response rate with Lugol’s solution was 70%, and with iodized casein was 40%. Molecular iodine was associated with a lower incidence of thyroid dysfunction than the other preparations.
Comment: Fibrocystic breast disease is one of the most common health problems in women. Although the symptoms are frequently minor, some women experience debilitating pain and discomfort. Treatments that are often effective include complete avoidance of dietary caffeine and other methylxanthines and supplementation with 400 to 800 IU per day of vitamin E. There are anecdotal reports that thiamine supplementation (100 mg per day) is also beneficial.
For women who do not respond to these treatments, oral iodine preparations are an important option. The molecular iodine used in the current study is not commercially available, but a compounding pharmacist should be able to make a similar preparation. Lugol’s solution is readily available, but it has a lower success rate and causes a higher incidence thyroid dysfunction than does molecular iodine. Thyroid function should be monitored periodically in people taking pharmacological doses of iodine or iodides. Side effects may include metallic taste, excessive salivation, runny nose, and skin rash.
Ghent WR, et al. Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg 1993;36:453-460.
by Alan R. Gaby, MD
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COPYRIGHT 2004 The Townsend Letter Group | COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group