Over half of nation is suffering from iodine deficiency: Taiwan

A very small needle is used to collect a sample of cells from the thyroid nodule. The procedure helps in the diagnosis of thyroid disorders.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Fifty-two per cent of Taiwanese are not consuming enough iodine, which may lead to iodine deficiency disorders, the Health Promotion Administration announced yesterday.

A report containing statistics of the nation's urinary iodine was released yesterday by the HPA. Urinary iodine (UI) refers to iodine concentration in urine and is currently the best biochemical marker of recent dietary iodine intake.

The report revealed that 52 per cent of those tested had less than 100 micrograms per liter, which is the minimum UI a person over the age of 6 should have, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to HPA Director-General Chiou Shu-ti, iodine is an essential micronutrient that is needed for growth and development and the maintenance of a healthy body; moreover, it cannot be synthesized by the body.

As the body needs iodine and cannot make it, the necessary iodine must come from the diet, which is easiest to get from salt and seaweed, Chiou said.

In recent years, people tend to deduct the amount of salt they consume over concerns of high blood pressure or renal failure, however, cutting down on salt intake may result in iodine deficiency disorders, Chiou said.

Lack of Iodine May Lead to Thyroid Cancer

Iodine deficiency is likely to cause an autoimmune disease of the thyroid and may increase the risk of getting thyroid cancer.

It is also said that iodine deficiency may increase the risk of other cancers such as prostate, breast, endometrial and ovarian, according to Lin Jia-hung, an endocrinology doctor from the Chang Gung Medical Foundation.

Iodine deficiency during pregnancy is serious for both the mother and the baby. It can lead to high blood pressure during pregnancy for the mother, and mental impairments for the baby.

Iodine plays an important role in the development of the central nervous system. In extreme cases, iodine deficiency can lead to cretinism, a disorder that involves severely stunted physical and mental growth, Lin added.