Maintaining Your Health

3 Non-Food Products to Avoid on a Low-Iodine Thyroid Cancer Diet

From dairy to seafood, there are several foods you'll need to avoid if you're on a low-iodine diet in preparation for thyroid cancer treatment. However, it's not just regular food products you need to watch out for. Other ingested products like medicine and supplements can contain iodine. Research has also shown that you can absorb large amounts of iodine through your skin, which can interfere with radioactive iodine treatment. Varying forms of iodine can be found in many products you might use in your daily life; here are 3 common ones to steer clear of.

Sore Throat Gargle (and Some Other Oral Hygiene Products)

One symptom that many thyroid cancer patients have suffered from is a persistent sore throat. Sore throat gargle mouthwashes are a common treatment, but they're not always suitable for people on a low-iodine diet because many brands contain povidone-iodine. Try to steer clear of these products unless the words iodine, iodised or iodate are missing from the ingredients list. Your thyroid clinic should be able to advise you on how to tackle ongoing soreness without jeopardising your treatment. You should also check the rest of your oral hygiene products for iodine in the ingredients. While they may not control povidone-iodine, they can contain seaweed, and seaweed is a natural source of iodine. Some toothpastes, for example, use seaweed as a thickening agent.

Spirulina Capsules and Powder (and Some Other Supplements)

Seaweed isn't the only ocean plant that can interfere with your treatment. Another product you need to avoid is spirulina capsules and powders. While natural health proponents have long heralded spirulina as a great cancer-fighting supplement, it's not suitable for patients with thyroid cancer because it contains iodine. It's often marketed as being good for thyroid health, which can be confusing. However, it's important to remember that this only applies to those who aren't undergoing radioactive iodine treatment because the treatment works best when you have a low level of iodine in your system. Other supplements that are high in iodine include fish oil, selenium, and some calcium pills. 

Thyroid Medicines (and Some Other Red-Coloured Pills)

If you were already using thyroid medication before you were diagnosed with cancer, it's important that you discuss this with your clinic because some of these drugs can contain iodine. Natural and synthetic thyroid hormone replacements like levothyroxine and triiodothyroinine are common culprits. You should also talk to your doctor about any other medications you're on, especially if they're red, orange or brown. Such pills may be dyed with erythrosine (also known as E127 or Red Dye #3), a food colourant derived from iodine. Remember, you should never stop taking any medication unless your doctor tells you it's okay to do so, so always consult a professional first.