The Iodine Project

Treating symptoms, not masking them.

Bromide. Bromine, Bromate???

 Potassium Bromate Termed a Cancer Threat (Link) Per CSPI Newsroom

WASHINGTON - The Center for Science in the Public Interest today petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the use of potassium bromate, which is used to strengthen bread dough. CSPI charged that the FDA has known for years that bromate causes cancers in laboratory animals, but has failed to ban it.

     Bromate was first found to cause tumors in rats in 1982. Subsequent studies on rats and mice confirmed that it causes tumors of the kidney, thyroid, and other organs. Instead of banning bromate, since 1991 the FDA — with only partial success — has urged bakers to voluntarily stop using it.

     “The FDA should fulfill its responsibility to protect the public’s health,” said Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of CSPI. “Instead of meeting privately with industry, the FDA should ban bromate immediately.”

     “In 1992-93 and again in 1998-99, the FDA tested several dozen baked goods and found that many contained bromate at levels considered unsafe by the agency,” said Darren Mitchell, a CSPI attorney. “One sample tested recently had almost 1,000 times the detection limit. The FDA’s inaction needlessly exposes consumers to this harmful additive.”

     Food additives that cause cancer usually can be banned under the Delaney clause of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, because the FDA sanctioned the use of bromate before the Delaney clause went into effect in 1958, it is harder for the agency to ban the substance.

     Bromates have been banned in numerous countries, including the United Kingdom in 1990 and Canada in 1994. In addition, in 1991, California declared bromate a carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65. Baked goods sold in California would have to bear a cancer warning if they contained more than a certain level of bromate. As a result, most California bakers have switched to bromate-free processes.

     Many bakers, including Best Foods, Inc. (maker of Arnold, Entenmann’s, and Orowheat brand breads and rolls), Pepperidge Farm, and Pillsbury, have switched to bromate-free processes. Also, some supermarket chains, including Giant, Jewel, Ralph’s, and Von’s, do not use bromate.

     In contrast, Interstate Brands Corp. (Wonder, Home Pride), Schmidt Baking Co. (Schmidt, Sunbeam), Tasty Baking Co. (TastyKake), and Martin’s still use potassium bromate in some of their products. Among fast-food chains, Burger King, Arby’s, and Wendy’s use bromate in buns, and Boston Market uses it in its french sandwich bread.

     CSPI advises consumers to avoid bread, rolls, doughnuts, and cakes that list “potassium bromate” or “bromated flour” among their ingredients. FDA’s limited surveys found that rolls and buns are especially likely to contain high levels of bromate.



The Bromide Dominance Theory ( per

    A bromide dominance condition may develop when  bromide, acquired
    through environmental, occupational, iatrogenic or dietary exposure, causes
    bromide levels in the body to rise high enough to inhibit iodine enzyme

    Iodine supplementation alters the competitive bromide-iodine relationship
    causing bromide excretion. Thus, bromide dominance is diminished and  
    proper iodine enzyme metabolism may be restored.

    In the toxic 21st Century, these questions must be raised:

  • Would we have such a severe iodine deficiency without bromide dominance?
  • If iodine deficiency is the underlying cause of many diseases, is bromide "the underlying cause of the underlying cause?"
  • Is bromide dominance creating a public health crisis?

Where Does Bromide Dominance Come From?

    Bromide is an insidious, additive used in many common products, and as a
    pesticide.  Because of the sheer amount of bromide-supplemented products,  
    exposure to this man-made additive has caused a depletion of iodine in human
    populations.  Studies in lab animals provide alarming evidence that even small
    amounts of bromide exposure can be toxic. (1)

    What products contain bromide?

    Currently, bromide is found in pesticides (methyl bromide),  some bread
    products (potassium bromate), brominated vegetable oil that may be added to citrus-flavored drinks, hot tub cleansers, certain asthma inhalers and
    prescription drugs, plastic products, some personal care products, some  
    fabric dyes, and as a fire retardant in mattresses, carpeting, etc.  (See
    expanded Products' Discussion Below.)

Effects of Bromide on the Organs

    IIodine depletion weakens the thyroid and other organs. (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)  In
    individuals where the bromide-iodine ratio is less, bromide may not be


    Elevated bromide levels have been implicated in every thyroid disease, from
    simple hypothyroidism to auto-immune diseases to thyroid cancer.
    Malenchenko found bromide levels 50 times higher in thyroid cancer than
    normal thyroid tissue
    . (7)

    Rats fed even the minimal amount of bromine expected to be encountered in
    the environment underwent goiter-like changes (8),  an arguable case of
    bromide dominance.
     In the FIRE project, exposing rats to the brominated flame
    retardant compound, bromocyclodecane, showed consistent effects on the
    thyroid hormone axis, including decreased T4.  Thyroid gland cells have
    increased size and larger nuclei, indicating increased synthetic activity. (9)

    With enhanced intake of bromide, fully one-third of the iodine content in the
    thyroids of rats was replaced by bromide.


    Skin biopsied from a woman who had been on bromide-containing sedatives
    for nearly four years  found increased bromide in normal skin and three
    times that in an affected skin lesion. (11)

    An infant administered a syrup containing sodium bromide developed
    vegetative lesions on the face and scalp. (12)

    Technicians exposed to brominated compounds for prolonged periods
    developed multiple cherry angiomas on the trunk and extremities. (12)


    The psychiatry literature abounds with cases of elevated bromide levels being
    implicated in mental conditions from depression to schizophrenia. (14)(15)(16)
    As Guy Abraham, MD, asks, "How many people with misdiagnosed bromism
    are currently treated with psychiatric drugs?"(17)  Bromide was used to
    suppress women's sex drive in the 1950s.


    Potassium bromate, a bread additive, is known to cause renal damage and
    permanent deafness in animals and man. (18)  In the FIRE project, the most
    relevant effect on exposing rats to 28 days to the brominated flame
    retardant compound, tetrabromobisphenol-A, was hearing.  Specifically, the
    lower frequency range was affected . (19)


    The ability of bromate to cause cancer, especially kidney cancer, is a
    significant health concern.  (20)  The gene expression in kidneys in rats given
    a high dose 100-week potassium bromate in their drinking water showed
    marked gene expression difference from the lower non-cancer dose.  The
    high dose kidney gene expression resembled an adenoma-like expression
    pattern. (21)


    Potassium bromate as an additive to most commercial bread and baked
    goods probably provides the most egregious contribution to bromide overload in Western cultures.

    Bromated flour is product "enriched"  with potassium bromate.  Some
    commercial bakers claim they use bromated flour because it yields
    dependable results, and it makes more elastic dough which can stand up to
    bread hooks and other commercial baking tools.  (22) However, Pepperidge
    Farm manages to use only unbromated flour with excellent results.


    The UK banned bromate in bread in 1990.
    Canada banned bromate in bread in 1994. (23)
    Proposal P230 in Australia: Food Regulation Ministerial Council (FSANZ) still
    has not finalized its July 2007 proposal to mandate iodized salt in breads,
    breakfast cereals and biscuits.

    Back in 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to prohibit the use of potassium bromate, charging that the FDA has known for years that bromate causes cancer in lab animals, but has failed to ban it.
    (24)  As of September 2007, the US FDA responded to Breast Cancer Choices
    inquir with the statement, " Potassium Bromate is still listed as a safe

    Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)


Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil that has had atoms of the element bromine bonded to it. Brominated vegetable oil is used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, Pineapple and Orange Fanta, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca to help natural fat-soluble citrus flavors stay suspended in the drink and to produce a cloudy appearance.

The addition of bromine increases the density of the oil, and the amount of bromine is carefully controlled to achieve a density that is the same as the water in the drink. As a result, the BVO remains suspended in the water instead of forming separate layers.

Health effects

Long after consumption of BVO in test animals, traces remain in the body fat.[citation needed] Bromine is a halogen and displaces iodine, which may depress thyroid function. Evidence for this has been extrapolated from pre-1975 cases where bromine-containing sedatives resulted in emergency room visits[1] and incorrect diagnoses of psychosis and brain damage due to side effects such as depression, memory loss, hallucinations, violent tendencies, seizures, cerebral atrophy, acute irritability, tremors, ataxia, confusion, loss of peripheral vision, slurred speech, stupor, tendon reflex changes, photophobia due to enlarged pupils, and extensor plantar responses.[2] In one case, a man who drank eight liters of Ruby Red Squirt daily had a reaction that caused his skin color to turn red and produced lesions diagnosed as bromoderma. The excessive quantities together with the fact that the man had a higher than normal sensitivity to bromine (I don't believe this to be the case) made this an unusual case.[3] A similar case reported that a man who consumed two to four liters of a cola containing BVO on a daily basis experienced memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headache, ptosis of the right eyelid as well as elevated serum chloride.[4] In the two months it took to correctly diagnose the problem the patient also lost the ability to walk. Luckily bromism was finally diagnosed and hemodialysis was prescribed which resulted in a reversal of the disorder.[1] A Pepsi product website notes that BVO has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931.[5]

In test animals, BVO consumption has caused damage to the heart and kidneys in addition to increasing fat deposits in these organs. In extreme cases BVO has caused testicular damage, stunted growth and produced lethargy and fatigue.[6]




    When drinking water containing bromide is exposed to ozone, bromate ion, a
    powerful oxidizing agent, is formed.  Two significant recalls of drinking water
    involving bromate have occurred:  Wegmann's Food You Feel Good About
    Spring Water Recall in 2006, and Coca-Cola's Dasani in 2004. (25)


    Potassium bromate is an antiseptic and astringent in toothpaste, mouth and
    gargles.  Very toxic if taken internally.  May cause bleeding and inflammation
    of gums in toothpaste.  (26)


    Flame retardants reduce the flammability of a wide variety of commercial
    and household products.  Some brominated home retardants migrate from
    the products in which they are used and are entering the environment and
    people.  (27)


    Sodium bromate in Products: Permanent Waves, Hair Dyes, Textile Dyes
    Sodium bromate is in permanent wave neutralizers, hair dye material, and  
    the textile dyeing process. (28) Benzalkonium is used as a preservative in
    some cosmetics. (29)


Breast Cancer Choices is indebted to the pioneering bromide research of Guy E.
Abraham, MD, as well as the clinical and intellectual contributions of David
Brownstein, MD, and Jorge Flechas, MD.

(1)  Vobecky M et al., Interaction of Bromine with Iodine in the Rat Thyroid Gland at Enhanced
Bromide Intake, Biol Trace Elem Res 1996.
(2)  Velicky J et al., The Effect of Bromide on the Ultrastructure of Rat Thyrocytes, Ann Anat 2004.
(3)   Pavelka S et al., Bromide Kinetics and Distribution in the Rat. II Distribution of Bromide in the
Body, Biol Trace Res 2000.
(4)   Velicky J et al., Long Term Action of Potassium Bromide on the Rat Thyroid Gland, Acta
Histochem 1998.
(5)  Velicky J et al., Potassium Bromide and the Thyroid Gland of the Rat: Morphology and
Immunochemistry 1997.
(6) Vobecky M et al., Interaction of Bromine with Iodine in the Rat Thyroid Gland at Enhanced
Bromide Intake, Biol Trace Elem  Res 1996.
(7)  Malenchenko AF et al., The Content and Distribution of Iodine, Chlorine and Bromide in the
Normal and Pathologically Changed Thyroid Tissue, Med Radiol 1984.
(8).  Velicky J et al., Potassium Bromide and the Thyroid Gland of the Rat: Morphology and
Immunochemistry, RIA and INAA Analysis, Ann Anat 1997.
(9) Issue 6, July 2006
(10) Vobecky M et al., Interaction of Bromine with Iodine in the Rat Thyroid Gland at Enhanced
Bromide Intake, Biol Trace Elem Res 1996.
(11)  Hubner K et al., Skin Bromide Content and Bromide Excretion in Bromoderma Tuberosum, Arch
Derm Res 1976.
(12)  Bel S et al., Vegetant Bromoderma in an Infant, Pediatric Dermatology 2001.
(13)  Cohen A et al., Cherry Angiomas Associated with Exposure to Bromides, Dermatology 2001.
(14) Horowitz BZ et al., Bromism from Excessive Cola Consumption, Clinical Toxicology 1997.
(15)  Levin M., Transitory Schizophrenia Produced by Bromide Intoxication, Am J Psychiatry 1946.
(17) Abraham G., The Combined Measurement of the Four Stable Halides by the Ion-Selective
Electrode Procedure Following Their Chromatographic Separation on a Strong Anion Exchange
Resin: Clinical Application, The Original Internist 2006.
(18)  Morizono T et al., The Effects of Cetrimide and Potassium Bromate on the Potassium Ion
Concentration in the Inner Ear Fluid of the Guinea Pig, Physiol Bohemoslov 1988.
(19), Issue 6 2006.
(21)  Geter D et al., Kidney Toxicogenomics of Chronic Potassium Bromate Exposure in F334 Male
Rats, EIMS Meta Data Report 2006.
(27), Issue 6 2006.


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