10 Health Dangers of Bromine

Bromine

By Dr. Edward F. Group

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Bromine is a chemical compound frequently used in flame retardants, baking ingredients, cell phones, plastic, dye, soda, and prescription drugs. Despite the warnings from the Centers for Disease Control about the serious, long-term health effects from constant exposure, use of the chemical shows no signs of slowing down.[1] Why should you care? Because research has identified the following 10 dangers of bromine as the most damaging to human health.

1. Disrupts Thyroid Function

Exposure to bromine severely impacts the thyroid gland and causes hormonal issues. Bromine competes with iodine, an essential nutrient that supports the health of the thyroid. Bromine and iodine are absorbed in similar fashion and animal research has found that bromine exposure limits availability of iodine to the thyroid and interferes with hormone production.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. The flame retardant PCBE, for example, has specifically been fingered as a thyroid and endocrine disruptor.[7] This is a HUGE problem — an impaired thyroid can lead to hypothyroidism, goiter, and hormonal imbalance.

2. Increased Risk of Preterm Birth and Birth Defects

Iodine plays an integral role in conception and gestation. When bromine replaces iodine during pregnancy, expectant mothers may be at an increased risk for delivering preterm babies. Avoiding bromine can be tricky as it’s often used during water purification. One study found that mothers exposed to higher levels of bromine showed an increased risk of preterm delivery.[8] An Australian study even reported a link between bromide exposure and birth defects.[9]

3. Slows Neural and Cognitive Development

Children exposed to high levels of brominated compounds (PBDEs) in flame retardants are known to suffer development issues. In one study, researchers tracked children born with high levels of PBDEs for six years. At all stages, their mental and physical development lagged behind children with lower, “acceptable” levels of PBDEs.[10] Based on this fact alone, it’s shocking that any bromine exposure could be considered acceptable.

4. Cognitive Failure

Mental dysfunction related to the overexposure to bromine is so common it even has a name — bromism.[11] In one specific case of bromism, a patient consumed vast amounts of soda that contained brominated vegetable oil. The patient experienced problems including fatigue, headache, memory problems, and loss of muscle control.[12] Next time you reach for a soda, check the label!

5. Contributes to Mental Illness?

Psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental health consequences, as a result of bromine exposure, has been known for decades.[13] Nearly 30 years ago, researchers speculated that some mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, may be misdiagnosed. Why? Because in some cases, reducing bromine levels decreased or eliminated schizophrenia symptoms. Thus, many experts believe some mental conditions may simply be a symptom of an underlying nutritional problem.[14]

6. Skin Disorders

When bromine comes in direct contact with the skin, it can irritate or burn. Exposure to bromine has also been linked to the development of cherry angiomas and lesions.[15] [16] [17] This effect has been known for almost a century, with the term “bromine acne” noted in a text from 1926. These pus-filled eruptions and lesions were observed in individuals who took bromine for nerve conditions.[18]

7. DNA Damage

Recent research has determined that potassium bromate, a common baking ingredient, causes oxidative damage to DNA.[19] To date, the research has involved animals; however, the human population consumes the most of this compound on a daily basis and many people are extremely concerned of its negative health implications![20]

8. Carcinogenic Potential

The International Agency for the Research on Cancer has identified potassium bromate (the ingredient used in bread and baking) as a known carcinogen. Although tests have only been performed on animals, the Agency states it may also behave as a carcinogen in humans.[21]

9. Toxic to the Kidneys

Potassium bromate is a known kidney toxin and has killed human embryonic kidney cells in lab tests.[22] Even the CDC acknowledges bromine may cause kidney damage.[23] Bottom line, if you prefer healthy kidneys, avoid bromine!

10. Hearing Loss

Ears require a balance of potassium and sodium, two minerals that are helpful for promoting proper hearing. When tested on animals, potassium bromate created chemical imbalances within the inner ear. Researchers believe that an imbalance of nutrients may lead to hearing loss in humans.[24]

Protecting Yourself from Bromine

Bromine’s interferes with proper thyroid function, hormone synthesis, and kidney health. And those are just a few of the many problems associated with excessive bromine intake. Reducing your exposure to bromine and related chemicals, such as potassium bromate, is a key step to protecting your health. The next step is to ensure you have adequate iodine levels, which can be accomplished by eating iodine-rich foods or supplementing with a high-quality iodine supplement.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Updated August 2014

Article References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about Bromine. CDC. Emergency Preparedness and Response.
  2. Pavelka S. Metabolism of bromide and its interference with the metabolism of iodine. Physiol Res. 2004;53 Suppl 1:S81-90.
  3. Allain P, Berre S, Krari N, Laine P, Barbot N, Rohmer V, Bigorgne JC. Bromine and thyroid hormone activity. J Clin Pathol. 1993 May;46(5):456-8.
  4. VelickའJ, Titlbach M, Lojda Z, Duskovà¡ J, VobeckའM, Strbà¡k V, Raska I. Long-term action of potassium bromide on the rat thyroid gland. Acta Histochem. 1998 Feb;100(1):11-23.
  5. VelickའJ, Titlbach M, Lojda Z, DuskovࡠJ, VobeckའM, Raska I. The effect of bromide on the ultrastructure of rat thyrocytes. Ann Anat. 2004 Jun;186(3):209-16.
  6. Ren XM, Guo LH. Assessment of the binding of hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers to thyroid hormone transport proteins using a site-specific fluorescence probe. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Apr 17;46(8):4633-40. doi: 10.1021/es2046074.
  7. Hamers T, Kamstra JH, Sonneveld E, Murk AJ, Kester MH, Andersson PL, Legler J, Brouwer A. In vitro profiling of the endocrine-disrupting potency of brominated flame retardants. Toxicol Sci. 2006 Jul;92(1):157-73. Epub 2006 Apr 6.
  8. Horton BJ, Luben TJ, Herring AH, Savitz DA, Singer PC, Weinberg HS, Hartmann KE. The effect of water disinfection by-products on pregnancy outcomes in two southeastern US communities. J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Oct;53(10):1172-8. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822b8334.
  9. Chisholm K, Cook A, Bower C, Weinstein P. Risk of birth defects in Australian communities with high levels of brominated disinfection by-products. Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Sep;116(9):1267-73. doi: 10.1289/ehp.10980.
  10. Herbstman JB, Sjödin A, Kurzon M, Lederman SA, Jones RS, Rauh V, Needham LL, Tang D, Niedzwiecki M, Wang RY, Perera F. Prenatal exposure to PBDEs and neurodevelopment. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 May;118(5):712-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0901340.
  11. Fonnum F, Mariussen E. Mechanisms involved in the neurotoxic effects of environmental toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and brominated flame retardants. J Neurochem. 2009 Dec;111(6):1327-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06427.x.
  12. Horowitz BZ. Bromism from excessive cola consumption. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1997;35(3):315-20.
  13. Max Levin. Transitory Schizophrenias Produced by Bromide Intoxication. Am J Psychiatry 1946;103:229-237.
  14. Drerup U. Bromism–an overlooked disease picture. Nervenarzt. 1986 Dec;57(12):727-9.
  15. Cohen A.D. Cagnano E. Vardy D.A. Cherry Angiomas Associated with Exposure to Bromides. Dermatology 2001;202:52–53 (DOI: 10.1159/000051587).
  16. Nabatame S, Saito Y, Sakuma H, Komaki H, Nakagawa E, Sugai K, Sasaki M, Uchiyama K, Kosaka M. Bromoderma in a patient with migrating partial seizures in infancy. Epilepsy Res. 2010 Oct;91(2-3):283-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2010.07.008.
  17. Bel S, Bartralot R, Garcà­a D, Aparicio G, Castells A. Vegetant bromoderma in an Infant. Pediatr Dermatol. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):336-8.
  18. H. Haldin-Davis. Bromide Eruptions. Postgrad Med J. 1926 July; 1(10): 142–143.
  19. Kawanishi S, Murata M. Mechanism of DNA damage induced by bromate differs from general types of oxidative stress. Toxicology. 2006 Apr 17;221(2-3):172-8.
  20. Entezam A, Lokanga AR, Le W, Hoffman G, Usdin K. Potassium bromate, a potent DNA oxidizing agent, exacerbates germline repeat expansion in a fragile X premutation mouse model. Hum Mutat. 2010 May;31(5):611-6. doi: 10.1002/humu.21237.
  21. International Programme on Chemical Safety. Potassium Bromate. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – Summaries & Evaluations. 30 September 1999.
  22. Geter DR, Ward WO, Knapp GW, Deangelo AB, Rubis JA, Owen RD, Allen JW, Delker DA. Kidney toxicogenomics of chronic potassium bromate exposure in f344 male rats. Transl Oncogenomics. 2006 Nov 23;1:33-52.
  23. Zhang X, De Silva D, Sun B, Fisher J, Bull RJ, Cotruvo JA, Cummings BS. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of bromate-induced cytotoxicity in human and rat kidney cells. Toxicology. 2010 Feb 28;269(1):13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2010.01.002.
  24. Morizono T, Ikeda K. The effects of cetrimide and potassium bromate on the potassium ion concentration in the inner ear fluid of the guinea-pig. Physiol Bohemoslov. 1988;37(3):241-7.

Previous articles by Dr. Group:

About the author:

dr-edward-group-iiiDr. Edward F. Group founded Global Healing Center in 1998 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer. Heading up the research and development team, Dr. Group assumes a hands-on approach in producing new and advanced degenerative disease products and information.

Dr. Group has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the internet.


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  • Margaret Swift

    Is it bromine that is put in flour, and how wide spread is this practice? Why do they put bromine in white flour?