Research Article

Thyrotoxicosis induced by iodine contamination of food--a common unrecognised condition?

Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: (Published 14 February 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:372
  1. J C Stewart,
  2. G I Vidor


    The incidence of thyrotoxicosis in northern Tasmania rose significantly in 1964, two years before an epidemic of iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis was precipitated by the addition of iodate to bread to prevent goitre. Each time older patients accounted for most of the increase. The 1964 increase was probably iodine-induced as the use of iodophor disinfectants on dairy farms, which causes iodine residues in milk, began in 1963 and a fall in the prevalence of goitre in young children suggested an increase in dietary iodine at about that time. A further small increase in thyrotoxicosis in 1971 may also have been iodine-induced as it followed an extension of the use of iodophors. Dietary iodine is rising substantially in many places because of high iodine levels in milk and the use of iodine compounds in automated bread making, and this may be causing unsuspected iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis. Dietary iodine should be monitored regularly and clinicans alerted to any rise. Contamination of common foods with iodine should be more strictly controlled.