Bone Disorder Linked to Iodine Deficiency

Kashin-Beck disease, a bone disorder most commonly found in central Asia, may be caused by chronic iodine deficiency, researchers report. Kashin-Beck disease is a debilitating bone disorder which slows bone growth and triggers a gradual stiffening of the major joints. Disease onset typically begins at between 5 and 15 years of age, with those having varying degrees of joint deformation and limited joint mobility. The illness is especially prevalent in areas of central Asia and central Africa where the usual diet often lacks two essential nutrients: iodine and selenium. Until now, most experts have assumed that Kashin-Beck is caused by selenium deficiency. The researchers believe that iodine deficiency impairs thyroid activity, which in turn slows bone growth and causes joints to stiffen.

The New England Journal of Medicine October 15, 1998;339:1112-1120.

COMMENT: It is interesting to note how all the hormones are interconnected and that by decreasing iodine one can damage the bone. Iodine is not a mineral one would normally associate with decreased bone density.

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