Correlation between Lack of Iodine and Thyroid Cancer

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 06, 2012

When suffering from iodine deficiency, a person’s thyroid gland may develop nodules, and these nodules can go on to form cancer. Such enlargement of thyroid gland is called goitre. One of the problems in development of thyroid gland is that if doctors give the treatment for thyroid hormone, when it is actually caused by iodine deficiency, it poses an increased risk of breast cancer.


How Thyroid Cancer is linked to Iodine deficiency


In many cases, the risk factor of thyroid cancer is unknown. Iodine deficiency used to produce a lot of cases of thyroid cancer once, but with the increased consumption of iodized salt and other sources of iodine, iodine deficiency is rare in western countries.

  • The link between thyroid cancer and iodine deficiency is clear with the fact that radioactive iodine therapy is the standard treatment for metastatic follicular thyroid cancer. It has been shown to improve survival rates in people who get diagnosed with the condition. It is the standard treatment for thyroid cancer and American Cancer Society affirms that it is an effective treatment for thyroid cancer.
  • In women, the mammary glands have a system to trap iodine which is similar to that of the thyroid gland. So, it creates a situation in which both the breasts as well as thyroid gland seek iodine. This explains why goitre is six times higher in girls during puberty than boys.
  • As the iodine is absorbed by breast tissues, women are more inclined to be deficient in iodine than boys. Moreover, there is evidence to show that iodine deficiency increases the risk of thyroid as well as breast cancer in women.
  • When the iodine uptake of women being treated with radioiodine was analysed, it was found that women who also had fibrocystic breast disease (FDB), took 12.5 per cent of iodine dosage compared to only 6.9 per cent in normal women. Thus, the iodine depletion in breasts can be a significant factor contributing to the development of thyroid cancer. Goitre caused by untreated iodine deficiency is often the cause of thyroid cells getting malignant.


The failure to diagnose and treat iodine deficiency is one of the main factors for the development of breast cancer in women, and it also poses similar risk for development of thyroid cancer. Women need to ensure that their thyroid cancer diet contains enough of iodine if diagnosed with it. But they should prevent it from occurring by ensuring its adequate intake by making it a part of their regular healthy diet plan.


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