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.  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.      The flame retardant PCBE, for example, has specifically been fingered as a thyroid and endocrine disruptor.  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.  An Australian study even reported a link between bromide exposure and birth defects. 
3. Slows Neural and Cognitive Development
4. Cognitive Failure
Mental dysfunction related to the overexposure to bromine is so common it even has a name — bromism.  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.  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.  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. 
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.    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. 
7. DNA Damage
Recent research has determined that potassium bromate, a common baking ingredient, causes oxidative damage to DNA.  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! 
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. 
9. Toxic to the Kidneys
Potassium bromate is a known kidney toxin and has killed human embryonic kidney cells in lab tests.  Even the CDC acknowledges bromine may cause kidney damage.  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. 
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
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