Iodine just may keep breast tumor growth at bay, according to a recent study. When iodide, the molecular form of iodine, was administered to animals with breast tumors, it was found that those tumors with curtailed growth displayed much higher iodine content. This may mean that iodine uptake into cancerous breast tissue can suppress tumor growth.

Iodine consumption is also suspected to decrease the risk of breast cancer. Japanese women, who have the lowest rates of breast cancer-related deaths, consume iodine (from seaweed and seafood) in amounts 16-40 times greater than the U.S.D.A. recommended intake of 150 mcg a day.

Recent studies have found that in both animal and human forms of breast cancer, a specific iodide transporter is expressed—indicating that the tissue has developed a mechanism to get more of the iodine that it needs. The only other instance where that transporter kicks into action is during pregnancy and lactation—when the need for iodide is increased. However, the significantly lower iodine content found in breast cancer tissue compared to noncancerous tissue in the same breast, or found in fibrocystic breasts, suggests that iodine may play a role in controlling tumor growth. Check with your physician about the possibilities of preserving breast health by upping your iodine intake.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition (