Foods/Supplements-Vitamins: Iodine

If you search PubMed for <prostate iodine> you will get over 1,500 hits. Unfortunately, most are related to Iodine-125-brachytherapy. In fact, I haven't found any study that links iodine deficiency to PCa.

Yet Dr. Brownstein is adamant that PCa is one of a long list of diseases where deficiency increases risk.

I became interested in iodine after I was made aware of intense interest on some of the BCa groups. The breast-iodine literature goes back fifty years.

I discovered that the prostate readily takes up iodine - so perhaps it has a protective role?

Some time in 2006, my son told me of a test for deficiency. You paint some iodine on a small patch of inner arm before bedtime. If it has disappeared before morning, you need to keep doing it until the area remains stained. It isn't good advice, but that's what I did.

Earlier that year, I had gone to a hand surgeon, since I couldn't straighten a finger in my right hand & the condition was rapidly getting worse. He diagnosed Dupuytren's contracture. It's on Dr. Brownstein's list.

Over the period of my arm-painting experiment, my symptoms began to reverse. The surgeon had told me that there was nothing to be done. The situation would progress. Surgery was not likely to help. He seemed almost amused by "the Viking disease".

As with PCa, it is difficult to get evidence that iodine deficiency is related to Dupuytren's contracture. I continued painting for a while, during which the reversal occurred at about the same rate as during its appearance. The thickening of connective tissue in my palm had almost disappeared when I first went to my integrative medicine doc. He told me to switch to Iodoral [1] - more expensive but safer.

Iodine, for most people, is only associated with the thyroid. Iodized salt all but eliminated the U.S. goiter problem almost a century ago. If a deficiency were to be related to, both, thyroid cancer & PCa, that might show up in the secondary cancer data.

[2] (2015) "Coupling of Prostate and Thyroid Cancer Diagnoses in the United States"

The authors seem to have set out to disprove linkage:

"Prostate and thyroid cancers represent two of the most overdiagnosed tumors in the U.S. Hypothesizing that patients diagnosed with one of these malignancies were more likely to be diagnosed with the other, we examined the coupling of diagnoses of prostate and thyroid cancer in a large U.S. administrative dataset."

Blame the patient?

"Patients with thyroid cancer were much more likely {+28%} to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than patients in the SEER control group ..."

"Similarly, the observed incidence of thyroid cancer was significantly higher {+30%} in patients with CAP when compared with SEER controls ..."

"In the absence of a known biological link between these tumors, these data suggest that diagnosis patterns for prostate and thyroid malignancies are linked."

Rather than contemplate a "biological link", the data was dismissed as perhaps being an artifact of inappropriate patient/doctor screening behavior.

I'm not saying that that the authors are wrong, but it seems that my PCa developed at a time when iodine intake was suboptimal.

[3] (2014) "Incidence of second malignancies for prostate cancer."

Cretinism (due to iodine deficiency) was not uncommon in the alpine regions of Europe, where there is little iodine in the soils. The Swiss were the first to iodize salt. Unlike the U.S., Switzerland is not particularly known for PCa over-screening.

For men with PCa in the Canton of Zurich, the risk factor for thyroid cancer was 2.89.

[4] (2015) "Risk of Second Primary Cancer among Prostate Cancer Patients in Korea"

Korea has a low PCa incidence rate & no mass overscreening:

"men with prostate cancer have a 25% lower risk of developing {a second primary cancer} in Korea, but a higher risk {"significant increases in the risk"} of developing subsequent bladder and thyroid cancers"

[5] Peyronie's Disease. Very similar in cause to Dupuytren's Contracture. A build up of connective tissue in the penis leads to curvature that can interfere with sexual activity. It is on Dr. Brownstein's list.

I can't seem to find the Johns Hopkins paper which first reported penile problems after prostatectomy that seemed similar to Peyronies. The concern was that the operation was perhaps somehow causing these problems. From my perspective, if a significant subset of men with PCa have poor iodine status, urologists might note a greater incidence of Peyronie's emerging before or after surgery. In the latter instance, the patient might be inclined to blame the surgery.

[5a] (2010) "Peyronie's disease following radical prostatectomy: incidence and predictors."

"Men presenting with sexual dysfunction after RP {radical prostatectomy} have higher PD {Peyronie's disease} incidence then the general population."

The authors end by mumbling on about whether "RP has a causative role in the pathogenesis of PD." Without the hypothesis that iodine deficiency is a risk factor for PCa & PD, one would not look for a more direct relationship than the surgery.

[5b] (2004) "Subjective and objective analysis of the prevalence of Peyronie's disease in a population of men presenting for prostate cancer screening."

Out of 534 men presenting for PCa screening, a "total of 48 patients were found to have a palpable penile plaque on physical examination for a prevalence rate of 8.9%."

"The mean age of men with Peyronie's disease was 68.2 years compared to a mean of 61.8 years in men without Peyronie's disease ..."

Unfortunately, while the study found Peyronie's to be more common than expected, it did not investigate any connection with PCa (why would the team have expected one without the iodine hypothesis?)

[6] (2013) "Uptake and antitumoral effects of iodine and 6-iodolactone in differentiated and undifferentiated human prostate cancer cell lines."

"Non-cancerous (RWPE-1) and cancerous (LNCaP, DU-145) cells, as well as nude mice xenotransplanted with DU-145 cells were used as cancer models."

"All three cell lines take up both forms of iodine." "In the three cell lines both forms of iodine activated the intrinsic apoptotic pathway "

"Iodine supplementation impaired growth of the DU-145 tumor in nude mice."


Regardless of any possible role in PCa, iodine insufficiency needs to be corrected. LEF called deficiency an epidemic in 2008 [7].

I have mentioned Dr. Brownstein a few times. He wrote "Iodine : Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It" [8]. I haven't read it, but probably should.











6 Replies

  • I had surgery for Dupuytren's contracture about 10 years ago. I don't know if mine was related to an iodine deficiency - it might be if it returned because I haven't used regular salt in years. I do take Kelp pills daily though but my labs don't normally show an iodine level.

    A finger on my left hand was bent forward so far that it became difficult to put things into my pant's pocket or get things out. the surgery returned that finger to normal and no signs of a return- so far.

  • I'm glad that the surgery was effective for you. I was under the impression that while surgery might offer relief, the condition was likely to recur. Maybe the kelp pills were serendipitous.

    Iodine deficiency might not explain all cases of Dupuytren's contracture. There is certainly a genetic disposition, and alcohol intake & diabetes may affect risk, as might trauma. On the other hand, ensuring a good iodine status might have significant overall health benefit, particularly in the U.S., where the majority supposedly have low intake. Kelp pills would certainly help.

    I just remembered that there is a topical "remedy" that some might try. It's a mix of potassium iodide & magnesium oil in DMSO:

    That formula uses superstaurated potassium iodide, which is known as SSKI. Dr. Tucker has a slightly different formula:

    "Mix one part DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), 3 medium to large size vitamin E oil capsules, with 9 parts SSKI".

    "Apply one drop of this mixture on the skin every morning and evening. Don’t get impatient, it could take a year or more. However, this is better than the usual surgical approach."

    I suspect that SSKI, or something similar, plus DMSO as the carrier, might do the job, without the need for other ingredients. If iodine status is the problem.


  • That sounds like a reasonable approach if the contracture is caught early. I let mine go too long and surgery seemed the best approach at that point.

    DMSO has been around a long time but it still gets no respect. I remember when you had to go to the garden shop to buy it.

  • recently i had 2 different types of scans done on my bones... one of them they were very concerned about weather to give me an injection prior to the scan or not, and the discussion going on had to do with my tolerance for iodine. they finally decided to have me drink lots of water instead. what was all that about IODINE?

  • Joe,

    They evidently injected a tracer consisting of radio-labeled iodine. The bones take up what they can use, but the rest needs to be flushed out of your body via the kidneys. I suppose that having it remaining in circulation during the scan might muddy the images.

    I wonder how well the scan works when one's iodine status is excellent?


  • no. they first injected some radio active stuff, but i had to allow for it to circulate so they sent me to another dept where this scan took place using water instead of another injection that would have iodine in it. i apologize for my confusion. then i returned some time later for the scan using the radio active stuff

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