Iodine And The Prostate

I always wonder what brings people to this little, humble corner of the Iodineinternet where I write up some of the alternative treatments, diets, and supplements I read about (and even try). Who are you? What are you doing here? Do you find my articles helpful? Understandable? Do you cross-reference them to make sure I’m honest? Well, it’s neither here nor there and just a stream-of-consciousness thought. Today I’m finally writing up my studies on iodine and the prostate. A friend of my husband has prostate cancer and needs to have surgery. He wanted me to get some articles regarding iodine and the prostate to give to his friend, so I did.  I thought I’d continue on in my iodine write-up here for this blog.

If you search for iodine and prostate on the internet, you’ll come across some pretty dramatic, anecdotal claims–got some coffee up my nose a time or two (or even three) while reading.  What’s real?  Can iodine make a man shoot across the room? Well, there’s not enough iodine and prostate information out there to know much, but the scant research teases us with at least iodine’s efficacy in preventing prostate cancer and reducing benign prostatic hypertrophy.

Real Life Evidence That Iodine May Impact Prostate Cancer

You’ll read this everywhere on the internet about iodine: Japanese men have one of the lowest prostate cancer rates in the world and some of the highest iodine intakes. They consume large amounts of salt-water fish and seaweed, both iodine-rich food sources. The Japanese age adjusted prostate cancer incidence rate is 12.6 men per 100,000 men; in the United States it is 124.8 men per 100,000 men. That’s a significant difference, eh, by any statistical, analytical contortion. When Japanese men move to the United States and adapt a non-traditional diet, maybe some Totino’s pizza, microwave popcorn, or honey mustard dressing in a plastic bottle, their incidence of prostate cancer rises. Now, this is all interesting and observational. Is it the iodine? The omega-3 in the fish? The micronutrients in the kelp? The air in McDonald’s? (1)

Well, wouldn’t it be nice to know? It would. In 1997, The British Journal of Cancer published a dietary study trying to label fat intake as a prostate nemesis, and they also looked at other nutrients as a side show. Fat intake was actually not found to correlate (so throw up the yellow flag on fat fears), but when looking at other nutrients, they found that the higher the iodine intake, the lower the risk of prostate cancer. Statistical contortion methods almost significantly indicated that high iodine intake was associated with less prostate cancer—but no cookie. (Please don’t eat cookies. Well, not many anyhow.)  High iodine intake was defined as greater than 156 micrograms per day, which is higher than the recommended intake in the United States and well below the intake in the average Japanese man. I wonder if anything significant would have turned up had they stratified out even higher intakes of iodine among the study population. That’s all I can do is wonder. And cook fish for my hubby. (2)

It’s Not All About The Thyroid

So, maybe iodine might, possibly, could help prevent prostate cancer. How? What could it do?   Well, we used to think that iodine was only needed by the thyroid gland– but oh, how we are learning that, ahem, we were wrong. (Why isn’t anyone blushing? Stammering?) In fact, the prostate and many other organs and tissues will actively pull in and accumulate iodine as long as there is enough iodine present in the body.  However, the thyroid gets preferential uptake of iodine. The doses of iodine recommended in the United States barely make the cutoff for thyroid needs, forget the breasts, brain, salivary glands, ovaries, testicles, prostate, and stomach! (3)

Iodine In The Prostate

Iodine, fascinatingly, is being found to have anti-proliferative, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Increased levels of iodine regulate mitosis, reduce free-radical induced DNA damage, and markedly reduce tissue fibrosis. All these functions add up to protection. Iodine seems pretty protective. Studies on mice and in test tube cells have shown that iodine can cause prostate cancer cells to self-destruct (known medically as apoptosis) and to differentiate (a good thing). Cancerous cells begin to lose all resemblance to the tissue type they are supposed to belong to, and iodine helps prostate cancer cells go back to resembling normal prostate cells (known medically as differentiation). This sounds promising, but it just isn’t concrete enough evidence to say that iodine benefits prostate cancer. (1,3)

Although we use the general term iodine, the body actually uses iodine (I2), iodate (I-), and 6-iodolactone. Using human cell lines in mice, research has elucidated that both normal prostate cells and cancerous prostate cells are affected by all three forms of iodine. Iodine inhibited cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis (programmed cell death). Interestingly, the 6-iodolactone iodine form is a powerful form that is only formed in the body when there is enough iodine (and it seems to be more if it’s the I2 form) present at certain levels and certain lengths of time.  So, if you’re barely scraping by to feed the thyroid, you may not be getting the amount, concentration, and duration necessary to make 6 iodolactone! 6-iodolactone cannot be detected in human tissue when iodine deficiency is present. (4)

What About Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)?

My searches for information about benign prostatic hypertrophy and iodine brought up even less than what I found for prostate cancer and iodine. What little I found seemed very seductive, but when I tried to track down the primary sources myself, it proved a little sticky. The paper titled “The Extrathyronine Actions of Iodine as Antioxidant, Apoptotic, and Differentiation Factor in Various Tissues” ran in the journal Prostate in 2013. The following is an excerpt from this article:

“Similarly, I2 treatment (3–6 mg/day) of patients with benign breast disease is accompanied by a significant bilateral reduction in breast size and remission of disease symptoms, effects not observed when I− or protein-bound I− is administered. Moreover, similar benefits have been found in benign prostatic hyperplasia, in animal models with 0.05% I2 supplementation, and in human patients with early benign prostatic hyperplasia (stages I and II) where an 8-month Lugol (5 mg/day) supplement was accompanied by diminished symptoms and prostate-specific antigen values, and an increased urine flow rate.”

This excerpt just sounds wonderful, but I was not able to access the sources. One is a textbook where you can read just a garbled bit on Google and the other was presented at a scientific convention.

On a personal note, we do use a little bit of iodine supplementation in our family because we don’t have reliable iodine sources in our diet. We try to eat seafood abundantly and incorporate seaweed, but the main cook in our family (me) sometimes gets a little tied up in little arms (kids) and doesn’t quite cook the way she means to. Upon questioning, it was reported to me that nocturnal urination symptoms in the laborer of our family diminished with iodine. Anecdotal? Yes. Absolutely.


Yes. Iodine does seem to play an important role in the prostate, and 150 micrograms does not seem like enough to get the protective effects. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a conventional medical doctor who will encourage you to take more iodine. In medical school and residency, we were taught that iodine can trigger hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Yes, it can rarely do that, especially if other nutrients are missing as iodine is added in. But I really can’t help but think that we need some more iodine than we’re getting (or perhaps we simply need to get less of what interferes with iodine’s function in our bodies—which is exceptionally difficult to do in our modern world). IF iodine would help a subset of population avoid prostatectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, boy, it seems like a simple thing to observe for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism compared to impotence.

My homeschooled iodine education must concur with the minority of healthcare professionals out there pushing for higher doses of iodine. BUT due to the high incidence of subclinical selenium; zinc; B vitamin deficiencies; and the fact that some forms of iodine are better than others, it must be done cautiously and under the scrutiny of a trained eye.  Rarely, a patient may convert to florid hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

This blog site and this post are not to be used for medical advice or treatment.  That would be silly.  Have a great day and a wonderful life.  I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the sources:

“We propose that the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficient Disorders recommend that iodine intake be increased to at least 3 mg/day of I2 in specific pathologies to obtain the potential extrathyroidal benefits described in the present review.” (3)


Iodine Bibiliography

  1. Cann SA, Qiu Z, and van Netten C. A Prospective Study of Iodine Status, Thyroid Function, and Prostate Cancer Risk: Follow-up of the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Nutrition and Cancer. 2007. 58(1): 28-34.  Full text if it is still up.
  2. TJA Key, PB Silcocks, GK Davey, PN Appleby and DT Bishop. A case-control study of diet and prostate cancer. British Journal of Cancer. 1997. 76(5): 678-687.  Full text.
  3. Aceves C, Anguiano B, Delgado G.  The Extrathyronine Actions of Iodine as Antioxidant, Apoptotic, and Differentiation Factor in Various Tissues.  Thyroid. 2013 Aug. 23(8):  938-946.  Full text.
  4. Aranda N, Sosa S, Delgado G, Aceves C, Anguiano B. Uptake and antitumoral effects of iodine and 6-iodolactone in differentiated and undifferentiated human prostate cancer cell lines. Prostate. 2013;73:31–41.  (I got this from ReadCube.)  Abstract.

25 thoughts on “Iodine And The Prostate

  1. Josh Trutt, MD (@TruttMD)

    Hi there,
    Thanks for a fun blog post. I realize this post is old, but I was doing some iodine research as well and had the same trouble you had finding those abstracts… I did eventually chase one down, so I figured I’d give you the link– since, surprisingly, it’s an actual double-blind controlled human trial on iodine 5mg for BPH, and the results were impressive. Here you go:

    In case the link doesn’t work, here’s the meat of it:
    In this study, we analyzed the iodine effects on patients with BPH. This protocol was approved by the Ethics Committees of the Hospital General de Queretaro, SSA, and UNAM. In a controlled, double-blind study, 14 men were randomized to receive iodine (5 mg/day) treatment or placebo for 8 months. The international prostate symptom score (IPSS) and the quality of life index (QOL) were evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the study. Maximal urinary flow rate, serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and thyroid status (TSH, T4, T3) were measured every 2 months. Our result showed that iodine supplementation significantly improved (30 %) the symptoms (IPSS and QOL) of the patients, increased the urinary flow rate by 100%, and reduced PSA levels by 30% at the end of treatment. Iodine treatment had no significant effect on thyroid status or on general health. Comparison with current pharmacological treatments such as antiandrogen or alpha-1 adrenergic antagonists led us to propose iodine supplement as a preferential treatment, because it exhibits similar benefits without the harmful side effects characteristic of the other treatments

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Josh Trutt, MD: Hello! I really do appreciate your taking the time to send that to me. The link did work. The results help me to continue to clarify iodine in my mind. One thing that I struggle with a little bit, and it’s no fault of the researchers, is the idea that I keep seeing the same names over and over on iodine information, which makes me cautious. Why is this not being picked up and pursued by others? It’s simple, cheap, seemingly effective. Monitor some TSHs every now and then for prudence. Of course, I am curious about if you’re practicing. How you practice. If you use this “alternative” stuff like iodine. Your thoughts. I suppose I could follow you on Twitter, eh? 🙂 Well, thanks for the link continuing to support my iodine beliefs. Do take care and have a great life!—-Terri Fites, MD

  2. Larry G

    First thank you for the post. Next I am a fanatic researcher and cross reference everything multiple ways. Next after the death of my Father from prostate cancer I specialized in prostate cancer independent research and was honored to be called the most knowledgeable layman in the USA by the founder of the Prostate Cancer Research Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Steven Strum. My degrees are in History and Law so keep that in mind. That said, you are right on the mark except for a few additions i would like to make and one correction. The prostate cancer “industry” is a diverse and far from standardized group of medical and scientific and “natural” individuals often at odds with each other. The fundamental causes treatments and studies are far from consistent because the physiology of each person varies greatly and the statistical studies are often “associative” not directly “proximate” cause information. So the Japanese study you quoted is the weakest form of information but interesting non the less. 1. Correction on the fat issue. Obese men do have a higher probability of aggressive prostate cancer here is the best citation. to get back to the iodine issue the proper amount of iodine will stimulate the thyroid which will increase metabolic rate especially for men with fatty liver and others with a chronic obesity problem. in addition iodine is a natural anti biotic, anti fungal, and anti viral. So I am in favor of supplementation. This discussion only scratches the surface of the other causes of prostate problems and cancer which generally are a hormonal issue caused by the changing hormonal balance in older men. I am not selling anything and do research for free for family and friends. I myself use “Iodoral” an iodine supplement available on Amazon and elsewhere. (Note: Great for women’s breast issues.)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Larry: Thanks for the link. That was great to read! I appreciate that. Also appreciate your taking time to read my article and confirm/correct with what you’ve researched. That’s important to me because so many people are searching on the internet for reliable information.

      I’m sorry about your father. May life impart you with peace and joy and contentment in helping your friends and family with your gleaned knowledge.


      PS: I did remove your last name. If you’d like it inserted back in, let me know!

  3. Larry Glickman

    No problem keep up the good work!! I study every day and there are always new treatments and discoveries. Many Doctor friends of mine roll their eyes when they see me because I always have something new for them to read. Nothing worse than a Doctor who does not keep up to date.

  4. Larry G

    Teri watch your spelling You are posting prostrate in one location when there is no R in the word next start small with iodine supplementation. 5m or less and start by seeing if that is creating any nervousness or sleep problems. The one prostate related article I found found no direct link to any prostate benefits. I supplement at 5 mg daily for energy and better skin health. I use it topically as well. The best new supplement information points to Boron as quite amazing for the prostate.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Larry! I scoured the article, but I didn’t see where I typed prostate with an R. Was it in my text or in a comment I wrote or maybe in a comment that someone else wrote? I don’t like it when I make typos!

      I’ll eventually have to read on boron. Thanks for pointing that out.

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Dear Larry, I see Dr. Sircus has at least a couple of iodine articles! Interesting. I wish he had a few more citations for some of his statements in the article you link to, particularly regarding pH. But, in general, I think what I really wish is that iodine would be studied more intensely by the mainstream. I think it is such a fascintating, helpful substance. But when? Who? How much? Which cofactors really necessary?

        On a different topic: I edit out people’s last names on comments unless I know they want their name to be specifically circulated on the internet (maybe they hit topics hard across the internet and need the value of their last name or identity; they’ve written a book; they have a blog site; etc). Do you want me to keep editing your last name out or would you prefer I leave it in its entirety?

        Have a good day!

      2. Larry

        Yes you can keep editing out my last name. No problems so far. On the iodine front I only suggest that people go slowly and remember that you can stain your skin with excessive amounts and create some tremors from over stimulation of the thyroid. It is useful in small amounts.

      3. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        And I suggest an occasional TSH if you start iodine. (At about 4-6 months after starting initially—unless symptoms direct otherwise— and every year after that to make sure okay. If stable at stable dose, just then periodically as determined by your doc.) That’s my cautious take.

      4. Larry

        I took a class at the Life Extension headquarters in Boca Raton by a noted Doctor on the proper levels of T4 and T3 what I learned was that this is no “Normal Range” you and your Doctor have to work with how you feel and use the guidelines as only a starting point. Some older folks cannot convert T4 into usable T3 for example. Medicine is as much Art as Science and god bless the Doctor who actually listens to his patient.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That’s right. And B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), from my reading. I personally try to get the vitamins and minerals via my diet, but one should definitely track their intake if that’s what they want to do.

      Selenium I get from Brazil nuts for sure rather than pill form.

      Also, I really, really encourage a TSH lab value to be tracked periodically (baseline and post starting) and symptom monitoring for people starting iodine. Yes, I know that to truly monitor the thyroid well, more labs are desirable. But I also know from being inside the circle as a medical doctor, that conventional doctors don’t like to order more than a TSH, so you have to fight for more than that. But if you have any complaint of fatigue, weight gain, constipation, nearly every conventional doctor will readily order a TSH. And I just think there’s enough literature out there suggestion hyper/hypothyroid symptoms after iodine that it deserves checked.

      1. Jose M

        I found today that we should not mix vit C with Lugol. I was wondering why is Lugol not having the same effect as in the first days. The answer is that, that in the first days I took Lugol only with selenium. After that, I started to take vit C too, but after tomorrow I will take Lugol in the morning, with all the other supplements, except vit C. I will take vit C at night. More infos here:,281,2962&q=630

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Have you considered also keeping track of the vitamins and minerals suggested to be taken with iodine that you actually eat, making sure you’re getting “the real deal” too?

        For example, 1-2 Brazil nuts each day can provide for selenium allotment and an assortment of six to ten cups of broccoli, oranges, kale, red peppers, kale, and so on will ensure over 1000 mg of vitamin C each day.

        No matter what! Good wishes and health, inside and out, to you!

  5. Pingback: Breast Cancer PREVENTION by Eating Cooked Mushrooms and Iodine Rich Foods | Chris Tompkins, My Journey

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