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June 29, 1957


JAMA. 1957;164(9):975. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980090029011

For many years iodine has been given in various forms for prolonged periods in the treatment of several diseases, notably asthma and bronchiectasis. Its effect on the mammalian thyroid, however, is curious and even paradoxical.1 Because it is used in the prevention and treatment of goiter, its goitrogenic action went unrecognized until about 1952, when Bell2 observed goiter with and without myxedema in five patients who had taken iodine for periods of two months to seven years. Three were being treated for asthma, one for goiter, and one for a suspected goiter. Although circumstantial evidence strongly suggested a causal relationship between the taking of iodine and the development of the thyroid disease, Bell avoided drawing a definite conclusion to that effect. One bit of evidence was the disappearance of the thyroid disorder when the administration of iodine was stopped.

In the five years that have elapsed, Bell's observations