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What Role Do Halides, Perchlorates and other Chemicals,
Play in Iodine Deficiency, Thyroid Disorders, Fertility Issues and Cancer?

What Role Do Halides, Perchlorates and other Chemicals,
Play in Iodine Deficiency, Thyroid Disorders, Fertility Issues and Cancer?

iodine food sourcesWell that’s a heavy title for a blog! Here’s the thing, “chemicals” tend to get lumped together under the blanket title of “toxins” when in fact sometimes we need to drill down and get specific. This is one of those cases, through understanding the very nature of halogens for example, we better understand how to preserve our health.

Here’s the take-home of this blog – right from the start. Iodine deficiency has increased spectacularly because of a lack of iodine in our soil and food, popular diet trends and increased exposure to halogens. There’s not a hormone in the body that’s not reliant on iodine – so, grab a cup of tea and let’s get clear on what we need to know.


So firstly, what’s a halide?

Halogens are a class of elements consisting of fluoride, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine. We briefly discussed their significance in our blog, Iodine – Why You Need It and Why You’ll Love it! please click here to read. Now I’d like to explain how these halogens compete to become “King of the Hill.” Quite literally, inhibiting iodine, and leaving us deficient in this vitally important trace mineral. In this blog we’ll look at how we are exposed to halogens in our modern world and how we can try to avoid or minimise their detrimental effects.

Make sure you stay with me initially here with a brief chemistry refresher and then we’ll move onto how halides are relevant to your health. The halogen family are found in common use in our everyday lives, so it’s important we know how to identify them.

Introducing Halides.

Group VIIA elements on the periodic table include fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine, they are commonly referred to as halogens or halides. Halogen atoms are characterized by an electronic structure where they are missing one electron, so they readily form the anion X2.

Halogens also form complexes like iodide (I3-) that are strongly anionic and oxo-acids and oxides, such as chlorite (ClO2) and perchlorate (ClO4) that are also anionic. This all sounds rather nerd worthy and science geeky however it is fairly interesting and relevant, click here for a quick summary on this.

According to Wikipedia “… halogens are highly reactive, and as such can be harmful or lethal to living biological organisms in sufficient quantities. This high reactivity is due to the atoms being highly electronegative due to their high effective nuclear charge.”1

Periodic Table

The key halogen our body’s need is iodine. In fact, every cell needs iodine, and thyroid and hormonal tissues need it the most.  Some people think it is the thyroid gland only, that needs iodine however all the glands in the body need iodine including the ovaries, uterus, breast, prostate, and pancreas. These glands all make hormones. There’s not a hormone in the body that can be produced without iodine.

When we are exposed to halogens other than iodine, they fill the spaces where iodine would normally be found i.e., they are stored in our iodine deficient receptors. It is also known that once these halogens enter the body, they disrupt “ALL” cell enzymes. These cell enzymes cannot then access vital nutritional minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iodine.

Let’s pause for a minute.

Now we need a quick refresher on micronutrients so that we better understand iodine. If you haven’t read our first blog on iodine though please click here Iodine – Why You Need It and Why You’ll Love it! please click here to read.

Nutrients are chemical substances required by the body to sustain basic functions and are optimally obtained by eating a balanced diet. There are six major classes of nutrients essential for human health: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are considered macronutrients and serve as a source of energy. Water is required in large amounts but does not yield energy. Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients and play essential roles in metabolism. Vitamins are organic micronutrients classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. The essential water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and C. The essential fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, E, D, and K.

Minerals are inorganic micronutrients. Minerals can classify as macrominerals or microminerals. Macrominerals are required in amounts greater than 100 mg per day and include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Sodium, potassium, and chloride are also electrolytes (a substance that separates in water into ions). Microminerals are those nutrients required in amounts less than 100 mg per day and include iron, copper, zinc, selenium, and iodine.

Iodine is an essential mineral just as iron, magnesium and zinc are – meaning that the body cannot produce them, and without them, we can experience an array of health issues or become seriously ill. Iodine is also known as a trace mineral or micro mineral as the human body only needs these in much smaller amounts, although that doesn’t mean that they are less important.

click here to read our blog: Are You Getting the “Essential Minerals and Trace Minerals” That Your Body Absolutely Needs?

Now let’s go back to halogens.

As outlined previously, when we are exposed to halogens other than iodine, they fill the spaces where iodine would normally be found i.e., they are stored in our iodine deficient receptors. It is also known that once these toxins enter the body, they disrupt all cell enzymes. These cell enzymes cannot then access vital nutritional minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iodine.

This is incredibly important because sometimes we discover that we are deficient in certain minerals and we may even chase our tails getting tested and retested, trying to conquer a nutritional deficiency, when in fact it may be a toxin overload that is at the root cause.

Fascinating – isn’t it?

Now iodine can be bound to amino acids, or it can be free, usually in the form of iodate or iodide ions. Iodide is the easiest form to absorb, so most of the bound iodine and iodate is converted to iodide by glutathione. I tend to bang on a lot about the essential role that glutathione (our most valuable antioxidant), plays in our health so please read our blogs on glutathione starting with Why is Glutathione so Vital?

Iodide is actively transported into the thyroid via the Na+/I−symporter (NIS), a key plasma membrane glycoprotein. This detail becomes important in a moment. Organs with active iodine transport (NaI-symporter system) are primarily the thyroid (about 20 – 40-fold concentration), the stomach, skin, eye (ciliary body), and choroid plexus in the brain. 62

The iodide ions are easily absorbed through the walls of the digestive tract in the stomach and small intestine and after it’s absorbed via the Na+/I−symporter (NIS), most iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland, some of it also accumulates in the ovaries, skin, and salivary, gastric, and mammary glands.62

Stay with me now.

In the case of the halides, which are all antagonistic elements to iodine, they impede the absorption of iodine. Halogens and toxicants, such as perchlorate, nitrate, and thiocyanate, can thereby disrupt normal thyroid function by competitively inhibiting iodide uptake by the sodium/iodide symporter and they are therefore known as NIS-inhibitors.26

Let me put that another way.

The mechanism of iodine in the cells is very ancient and lacking specificity, in fact, cells are not able to distinguish iodide from other anions of similar atomic or molecular size, which may act as “pseudo-iodides”: bromide, fluoride, chlorine, thiocyanate, cyanate, nitrate, pertechnetate, and perchlorate.37 Heavy metals and toxins get stored in the same receptors that are looking for iodine.

As you discover with this blog studies of human NIS indicate that these chemicals act together, to competitively inhibit iodide uptake, i.e., in fact they work cumulatively to inhibit iodine thereby – WORSENING IODINE DEFICIENCY.

This is huge!!

Over the last few decades, we have seen significant increases in thyroid issues from thyroid cancer to autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, as well as hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic, ovarian, breast and uterine cancers. More health experts believe that iodine deficiency plays a significant role in these health issues. There are many reasons that an iodine deficiency may occur however over the last few decades it seems that we have become over-chlorinated, over-fluorinated, and over-brominated all the while becoming super deficient in iodine! And NOW we have better insight into why!

To read more about iodine deficiency please read our blog, Iodine – Why You Need It and Why You’ll love it!

Which Halogens Are of Concern? 

The elements of the halogen family are found in common use in our everyday life and are harmful to our health. As you now appreciate the key halogen that our body’s need is iodine so let’s look deeply at those halogens of greatest concern – where they are found, and most importantly how we can avoid them. Please click on each of the halogens below for some FASCINATING reading.


Click here to read

Bromide is found naturally in the earth’s crust and seawater. A Bromide ion, Br- releases an electron to form a bromine atom Br. When bromine is added to products it binds to the body’s receptors and blocks the absorption of iodine receptors primarily in the thyroid and stomach.2 Bromine competes for the receptors in the thyroid that capture iodine. In other words, bromine displaces iodine – this problem is called the “Bromide Dominance Theory.” 21Interestingly bromide was used in the past as a sedative to help those suffering from insomnia however, this procedure was stopped when safer alternatives became available.3 Bromine can now be found in several objects around you, including the plastics used to produce computers, fire retardants in fabrics, carpets, and upholstery, and swimming pool treatments. Common sources of bromine also include certain foods and beverages.

Here’s a list of how we are exposed to bromine and bromide:
  • Used along with chlorine as a disinfectant and an antibacterial in drinking water to kill bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms through a process known as sterilization.
  • Used as an antibacterial in hot tubs and pools
  • Used in most grains
  • Used in bleached and enriched flour. Bromine has been added to flour since the 1980’s as a dough conditioner and may be found in breads and other processed foods. Prior to this iodine was used but bromide proved to be cheaper.
  • Used as a flame retardant in furniture, carpets, mattresses, and clothing as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • Used as a preservative in nuts and oils
  • Organic bromines are widely used as sprays to kill insects and other unwanted pests on fruits and vegetables. These chemicals are not only poisonous to the pests that they are used against, but also to larger animals but also humans.
  • Used as a fumigant for termites
  • Used in Paxil and Prozac
  • Has been used in carbonated drinks such as Mountain Dew, AMP Energy drink, some Gatorade, Code Red, Dr. Pepper, HC, Sun Drop, Fanta, Minute Maid Lemonade, Citrus Gatorade.
  • Used in computers and automobiles

Different Types of Bromide: Next time you are shopping check the labels for the following ingredients:

  • Potassium bromates: This is a chemical manufactured in a plant that is added to flours and baked goods to strengthen dough and increase rising height.  It is common in processed baked goods. Bread eaters beware!
  • Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): This is also a chemical made in a plant, and it is used to help emulsify citrus-flavoured soft drinks, keeping them from separating during distribution i.e., to help keep citrus-flavour oils suspended in beverages and prevent them from floating to the top of the fluid.The status of BVO differs in various parts of the world: It is allowed as a food additive in Latin American and North American countries (including the U.S. and Canada), but not in Japan or European Union countries. See below for further information.
  • Methyl bromide: This is a pesticide, and has restricted uses set by the EPA. Even with the restrictions, exemptions are made for strawberry crops, and dry cured pork producers also use it to fumigate their facilities.
  • Flame retardants: Commonly used in furniture, electronics, plastics, and even children’s pyjamas as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These work to slow down chemical reactions that cause a fire.
  • Personal care products.: Cetrimonium Bromide is added to certain hair conditions, hair dyes, and other hair products.  According to the Skin-Deep website this chemical has a low overall hazard, although allergies and immunotoxicity are possible, and there is a moderate concern of organ system toxicity.
More on Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): 

BVO was commonly found in Mountain Dew and other popular citrus-flavoured soft drinks such as Squirt, Fresca, Sunkist Peach, and Fanta Orange, and in sports drinks such as Powerade. In recent years viral online pieces have described BVO as a “toxic chemical” and urged consumers to avoid products such as Mountain Dew soda that contained it4:

T0 read more click here:

Health Conditions Associated with Bromide:

Humans can absorb organic bromines through the skin, with food and during breathing. The problem is that bromide can accumulate in the body and toxicity results in many health issues, including headaches and severe depression. While bromine poisoning, called bromism, is known to cause schizophrenia, delirium, retardation, and hallucinations. In milder cases, it may cause dullness, depression, headaches, and irritability.5 There have been varied cases reported of people consuming high levels of soft drinks and needing to be hospitalised, there has been a particular rise with people “gaming” where players use beverages high in sugar and caffeine to stay alert all night. Sometimes “gamer fuel” includes six large sodas in six hours.

Soda makers and industry groups say they are not concerned about the safety of brominated vegetable oil, saying their products meet all government standards. “This is a safe ingredient approved by the FDA, which is used in some citrus-based beverages,” said Christopher Gindlesperger of the American Beverage Association, which represents PepsiCo, maker of Mountain Dew.6

Some experts are unconvinced, saying that the FDA standards are based on decades-old data. Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University who specializes in studying brominated compounds says that6 “There are some concerns [about BVO] because people are worried that maybe it has the behaviour, and potential health effects similar to brominated flame retardants.”

Charles Vorhees, a toxicologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who studied BVO’s neurological effects in the early 1980s says6,

“Compounds like these that are in widespread use should be re-examined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren’t effects that would have been missed by prior methods, I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some re-examination. Toxicity testing has changed dramatically in the past few decades. Multiple generations of animals now can be tested for neurodevelopmental, hormonal, and reproductive changes that weren’t imagined in the 1970s and early 1980s. I am no toxicologist, but I think that the toxic evaluation of chemicals has been improved since then.”

  • Fatty liver changes, behavioural impairments, and inhibition of reproduction

While the following studies are now old, their results, even without multi-generational results, show compelling evidence of dose-related health effects. In 1970, scientists in England found that rats on a six-week diet containing 0.8 percent brominated maize oil had stockpiles of bromine in their fat tissue. The bromine stayed there even after the rats returned to a control diet for two weeks.6

Around the same time, a study confirmed that bromine was building up in humans. Researchers measured the serum levels of people in the United Kingdom—where BVO was in use—and in their counterparts in the Netherlands and Germany, where BVO was not used.7 “During this time UK citizens had higher bromine serum levels compared to the inhabitants of Germany and the Netherlands,” Vetter said. The largest amounts of lipid-bound bromine were found in tissues from children in the UK, according to the study. The study authors wrote that “it seems highly probable that the intake of brominated vegetable oil is the cause of the tissue bromine residues in children.”

Data in rats show that BVO can be toxic. A 1971 study by Canadian researchers found that rats fed a diet containing 0.5 percent brominated oils grew heavy hearts and developed lesions in their heart muscle. All rats fed the brominated oils also had fatty changes in the liver, but the effect was more marked at 0.5% than at the 0.1% dietary level. Female animals fed the brominated oils had a slightly higher incidence of thyroid microfollicular hyperplasia than males.8

In a later study, in 1983,9 rats fed the same oils had behavioural problems, and those fed 1 percent BVO had severely impaired conception. At this dose postnatal mortality was high, and survivors showed impaired growth and severe behavioural impairments. BVO at 0.5% of the diet produced less reproductive interference but produced behavioural impairments almost as severe as seen in the BVO 1.0% group. BVO at 0.25% of the diet produced reproductive deficits similar to the BVO 0.5% group, but less severe effects on growth and behavioural development. This group showed no significant increase in offspring mortality. While at 2 percent, the rats were unable to reproduce, i.e., the BVO diet completely blocked reproduction.

The data demonstrate clear evidence of dose-related physical and behavioural developmental toxicity.

  • Thyroid Issues, Cancer and Cardiovascular disease

With regards to its effects on thyroid health, studies show bromide increases TSH and induces hypothyroidism in rats.10,11 Bromide is also a well-known carcinogen, and there is evidence that it can lead to the development of kidney and thyroid tumours in rats and humans.12 Brominated vegetable oil has also been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.8,13

How To Reduce Your Exposure to Bromide:

  • Consume organic foods as often as possible
  • Make sure you wash any produce thoroughly with an all-natural fruit and vegetable wash
  • Use only organic whole-grain breads and flour
  • If you can, grind your own grain
  • Be sure to check the labels of commercial baking goods for “no bromine” or “bromine-free” labels
  • Avoid sodas and sweetened beverages, and drink only filtered, pure filtered, drinking water
  • Do not use plastic containers, as they can contaminate your food, water, and drinks. Instead, use glass containers or ceramic vessels.


Click here to read


Click here to read

And finally – Fluoride

Click here to read

In conclusion.

The key halogen our body’s need is iodine. As discussed, cells are not able to distinguish iodide from other anions of similar atomic or molecular size, which may act as “pseudo-iodides”: bromide, fluoride, chlorine, thiocyanate, cyanate, nitrate, pertechnetate, and perchlorate blocking iodine and resulting in an iodine deficiency. As you can now appreciate it is incredibly important that we learn how to avoid or minimise our exposure to these halides to both live a healthier lifestyle and support our endocrine system. This is not just important for pregnant women and children; it is integral for all men and women.



Yours in health,

Jennifer Barham-Floreani,
Bach. Chiropractic, Bach. App Clinical Science
Registered internationally, no longer practicing as a chiropractor in Australia.





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