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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mythbusting 1853~ disappearing testicles and breasts due to iodine

I have found wasting/disappearance of breasts and testicles referred to in old literature although it is always referenced, no first-hand knowledge, such as this:

source: The Elements of Materia Medica, By Jonathan Pereira, 1839

Two most remarkable effects which have been produced by iodine are, absorption of the mammae and wasting of the testicles. Of the first of these (absorption of the mamma;) three cases are reported in Hufelarufs Journal (quoted by Bayle, op. cit. p. 162), one of which may be here mentioned. A healthy girl, twenty years of age, took the tincture of iodine during a period of six months, for a bronchocele, of which she became cured; but the breasts were observed to diminish in size, and notwithstanding she ceased to take the remedy, the wasting continued, so that at the end of two years not a vestige of the mamma; remained. Sometimes the breasts waste, though the bronchocele is undiminished: Reichenau {Christison, p. 180) relates the case of a female, aged twenty-six, whose breasts began to sink after she had employed iodine for four months, and within four weeks they almost wholly disappeared; yet her goitre remained unaffected. With regard to the other effect (wasting of the testicle) I suspect it to be very rare. I have seen iodine administered in some hundreds of cases, and never met with one in which atrophy either of the breast or testicle occurred- Magendie also says he never saw these effects, though they are said to be frequent in Switzerland.

MYTH, busted...

source: Ohio medical and surgical journal, Volume 5, 1853

 By James Henry Pooley

Art. IX.—Remarks on the effects of Iodine on the Glandular System and on the Properties of Kousso,

By Thomas H. Sylvester, M. D., Clapham.

Read at the Anniversary Meeting of the South Eastern Branch.

In our journal the question has been asked whether atrophy or absorption ever takes place in the glandular system from the use of iodine? In answer to this question I would beg the favor of the present members of the Society to allow me to make a few remarks, the result of many years attention to this point. From 1834 to 1844, a great many patients, suffering under secondary and tertiary syphilis, were admitted into St. Thomas' Hospital, more especially under the care of the late Dr. Williams, who had gained a high reputation in the treatment of these morbid symptoms. Most of these patients came under my notice and particular observation, and many of the remarkable cases were entered in my note book, but one instance of atrophy or absorption of the large glands, occurred in our experience. It was thought advisable, on the recommendation of Lugol, to test the efficacy of iodide of potassium in scrofulous enlargement of the glands, and in order to give M. Lugol's method of treatment fair play, a most characteristic specimen of these affections was selected. A young woman, fat, florid, and fair, aged 18, was admitted with suppurating glands at the angle of the jaw, and others approaching suppuration, or hard and inflamed, extending to the chin, were conspicuously prominent. Eight grains of iodide of potassium, in camphor mixture, were prescribed, and steadily administered for six months, without the slightest perceptible effect on the scrofulous mass of glands, and she was presented in much the same state as at her admission. Now it happened that in this girl the breasts were largely developed, but no change was produced in their size by the treatment adopted for scrofulous ailment, notwithstanding the full dose, and the prolonged administration of the iodide.

There were at this period, before the treatment had become generally known, innumerable cases of syphilitic periostitis, in which the iodide of potassium was very successful, and yet we never witnessed atrophy or absorption of either breast or testicle during the use of this remedy. A case of simple hypertrophy of the breast was then made the subject of experiment; eight grains of the drug were taken, steadily and continuously, for three months, but no diminution of the mammae took place.

A boy, aged 12, presented himself with immensely enlarged tonsils, and took the iodide nearly six months, without any impression having been made upon these organs. It would weary you to bring forward further illustration on this subject, and this negative kind of argument, is, I am aware, perfectly satisfactory, and may be destroyed by a single example of the positive power of the remedy in causing absorption of either the breast or testicle; but ten years' observation in a large hospital failed to furnish me with a single proof in favor of the opinion that atrophy or absorption of the glandular system, in its normal condition, arises from the use of iodine in any form. Experience as to the topical application of this powerful agent, involves an inquiry into the effects of friction, stimulation, protection and warmth, and excludes all interference as to its specific property. It must be confessed that enlarged testicles not unfrequently yield to its influence, but it will be found on inquiry, that in these cases the system has been contaminated by the syphilitic poison. The same remark is applicable to chronic induration of the inguinal glands. It is a very remarkable fact that the swelling of the thyroid body in common bronchocele, vanishes under the internal use of iodine, especially the iodide of potassium. The rapidity and certainty of its removal are equalled only by that of the venereal node; and I have sometimes thought that there might be a vital elective attraction between the iodine and the lime, which forms the basis of the nodal tumor, and is, probably the chief element in the thyroid enlargement.

It remains to be explained, how it happens that tumors, enlargements and thickenings of a nature other than have been noticed, disappear under the use, topical or internal, of the remedy in question; the explanation is undoubtedly difficult, but I may be allowed to remark, that there is an absence of permanency in the glands generally, the thyroid disappears spontaneously, the tonsils naturally at puberty, the breasts in advanced age, and sometimes the testicles and ovaries; and there are few practitioners who have not met with cases of absorption of the breast and testicles from some unknown cause, and in morbid instances, when no medicine has been taken. I have over and over again known and seen large swellings to vanish under the long and continued application of a poultice, or wet lint and oil silk; and an equal number of failures where iodine, internally, or externally, was had recourse to, have occurred to me.

I recommend this subject to my medical brethren, and I do not hesitate to say that they will confer a great boon upon scientific medicine by determining, with certainty, the value of iodine in the cure of disease.

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