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Environmental Causes Of Thyroid Disease

Causes Of Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder

How Does Iodine Cause Thyroid Disease Exactly?

One common reason for abnormal thyroid function is Hashimotos thyroiditis. There are several reasons this autoimmune disorder can start in your body. Lets break a few down.

Immune system activation from chronic infections , Lyme Disease, mold toxicity, food allergies, and even chronic gut dysbiosis.

Big hormonal fluctuations .

Nutrient deficiencies.

Environmental toxicities. This is the one I want to dive into more, as environmental toxicities can be vast and varied.

RELATED:3 common chemicals that could impact your thyroid.

How Is Thyroid Disease Treated

Your healthcare providers goal is to return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can be done in a variety of ways and each specific treatment will depend on the cause of your thyroid condition.

If you have high levels of thyroid hormones , treatment options can include:

  • Anti-thyroid drugs : These are medications that stop your thyroid from making hormones.
  • Radioactive iodine: This treatment damages the cells of your thyroid, preventing it from making high levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Beta blockers: These medications dont change the amount of hormones in your body, but they help control your symptoms.
  • Surgery: A more permanent form of treatment, your healthcare provider may surgically remove your thyroid . This will stop it from creating hormones. However, you will need to take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of your life.

If you have low levels of thyroid hormones , the main treatment option is:

  • Thyroid replacement medication: This drug is a synthetic way to add thyroid hormones back into your body. One drug thats commonly used is called levothyroxine. By using a medication, you can control thyroid disease and live a normal life.

Phenols: Nonylphenol Pentachlorophenol And Bpa

NP and octaphenol are industrial additives used in a wide variety of detergents, plastics and pesticides. NP may be one of the more critical compounds due to its toxicity, persistence and estrogenic effects. PCP has been extensively used as a biocide and wood preservative in the timber industry and as an antifungal agent in the leather industry. Furthermore, PCP is the primary metabolite of the pesticide hexachlorobenzene , which is described in detail below. BPA is used to manufacture polycarbonate and numerous plastic products including compact discs, foodcan linings, adhesives, powder paints and dental sealants. BPA is rapidly glucuronidated in rats and humans.

Exposure of rats to NP increased TSH dose-dependently , but no consistent effects on peripheral hormones were found . Another rat study showed increased levels of T3 and T4, but no change in TSH in ovariectomized rats. This pattern was not consistent with in vitro studies of protein extracts showing NP to inhibit thyroperoxidase activity . PCP also decreased T4 levels in ewes . In fish and tadpoles, NP may have an impact on development as TH levels were clearly decreased as well as the rate of metamorphic progression and tail resorption in bullfrog tadpoles .

Read Also: How To Feel Your Thyroid

What Does The Thyroid Do

Your thyroid has an important job to do within your body releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your entire body to keep many of your bodys systems working correctly. Think of your metabolism as a generator. It takes in raw energy and uses it to power something bigger.

The thyroid controls your metabolism with a few specific hormones T4 and T3 . These two hormones are created by the thyroid and they tell the bodys cells how much energy to use. When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements.

This is all supervised by something called the pituitary gland. Located in the center of the skull, below your brain, the pituitary gland monitors and controls the amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. When the pituitary gland senses a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of hormones in your body, it will adjust the amounts with its own hormone. This hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone . The TSH will be sent to the thyroid and it will tell the thyroid what needs to be done to get the body back to normal.

Pesticides And Herbicides Induce Hypothyroidism

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Pesticides and herbicides are another group of highly prevalent environmental toxins that adversely affect thyroid function. Exposure to organochlorine pesticides, the herbicide paraquat, and the fungicides benomyl and maneb/mancozeb has been associated with an increased incidence of hypothyroidism in women. The use of a wide variety of other pesticides, including organophosphates and carbamates, has been associated with hypothyroidism in men. Pesticides and herbicides disrupt thyroid function by interfering with thyroid hormone gene expression, inhibiting the thyroids uptake of iodine, binding to thyroid hormone transport proteins, reducing cellular uptake of thyroid hormone, and increasing thyroid hormone clearance from the body.

Also Check: Can Thyroid Eye Disease Affect One Eye

Two Endocrine Distruptors Linked To Thyroid Cancer

Researchers have found cause for concern about the potential for harm from two common pollutants: bisphenol AF and phytates . In a study published in Chemosphere, the authors evaluated the blood levels of more than 14 EDCs and found a significant link between these two endocrine disrupters and thyroid cancer.¹

The researchers identified 55 patients from five different medical sites across Italy who were seeking treatment for thyroid nodules their blood was evaluated for levels of these EDCs.¹ They found that in patients who had both BPA and phthalates in their blood, there was a dose-response effect regarding the development differentiated thyroid cancer. No effect was found with the patient’s level of thyroid stimulating hormone .

In fact, the risk of developing thyroid cancer appears 14-times greater in the individuals who have been exposed to low doses of these environmental toxins, according to Dr. Vincenzo Marotta, the lead study author, who is an oncologist from IRCCS National Cancer Institute in Naples, Italy.

The sooner you reduce your contact with these environmental endocrine disruptors the better, says Dr. Marotta. You don’t need to consume these toxic substances as they can be absorbed through the skin so just handling products containing these substances may increase your health risk.

The Most Common Thyroid Diseases

Hashimoto Thyroiditis, a relative to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, affects mostly women and tops the list of conditions responsible for low thyroid . Hashimotos is so common that 97% of individuals taking thyroid medication are believed to have the disease but are not diagnosed. People with Hashimotos often express feeling like they are getting older because they experience symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, cold intolerance, depression, fatigue, heart palpitations, hair loss, loose bowels, and an inability to lose weight. All these symptoms indicate a dysfunctional thyroid.

Graves Disease is the most common cause of overactive thyroid and also typically arises in women under 40 years of age. This AITD presents symptoms similar to Hashimotos with some exceptions: a fine tremor of the hands or fingers, heat sensitivity, weight loss, bulging eyes, thyroid enlargement, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction , and menstrual cycles changes . Graves disease may also produce a thick, red patch of skin on the anterior portion of the leg or dorsum of the foot referred to as Graves dermopathy.

Read Also: 3 Types Of Thyroid Cancer

How Long After My Thyroid Is Removed Will My Tiredness Go Away

Typically, you will be given medication to help with your symptoms right after surgery. Your body actually has thyroid hormone still circulating throughout it, even after the thyroid has been removed. The hormones can still be in your body for two to three weeks. Medication will reintroduce new hormones into your body after the thyroid has been removed. If you are still feeling tired after surgery, remember that this can be a normal part of recovering from any type of surgery. It takes time for your body to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are still experiencing fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease after surgery.

Thyroid Dysfunction Vs Hypothyroidism

TBS #12 What Actually Causes Thyroid Disease? Thyroid Dysfunction vs Hypothyroidism

When we discuss the causes of thyroid disease we really need to differentiate between two important conditions: thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroidism.

This means that you can still create thyroid hormone but the hormone that you create isn’t working as intended by your cells or by your body.

Thyroid dysfunction is often a result of some other condition and can usually be reversed!

Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition which results in a DECREASE in the amount of thyroid hormone that your body produces.

Those with hypothyroidism usually have problems with their thyroid gland itself, or with their pituitary/hypothalamus, and their thyroid disease is their primary problem.

Hypothyroidism may or may not be reversible so it’s very important to distinguish between thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroidism if you are experiencing hypothyroid symptoms.

These conditions can often be confusing because they may both present with similar symptoms and with similar thyroid lab tests.

But, with the right information, you can easily distinguish between these entities.

Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction

#1. Obesity

Obesity may be one of the most “silent” causes of thyroid dysfunction out there today.

If you are overweight by even as few as 10 pounds you may have some element of thyroid dysfunction.

Emerging research and studies have shown that obesity may be a CAUSE of thyroid dysfunction, not the other way around and this is why it’s so important.

#2. Calorie restriction or Dieting

Recommended Reading: Can You Die Of Thyroid Cancer

Environmental Factors That Impact Thyroid Disease

There are many root causes to Hashimotos Thyroiditis, or autoimmune thyroid disorder. When someone is diagnosed with Hashimotos, we want to start modulating the immune system and treating the root cause. Hashimotos cant be cured, but if we can find what is fanning the flame of your immune system, we can calm the autoimmunity and save the glands integrity.

One common reason for the induction of Hashi is the exposure to toxic chemicals. There have been specific toxins that are clearly linked to thyroid disease, though it can still be difficult to determine causation in a specific case because there are often many factors. And its hard to pinpoint the exact action that a toxicant has and how that contributes to a disease. Hence, why we know that there are many chemicals that are harmfulbut its not easy to research why.

Bottom line: Its never cut and dry with thyroid disorders. When we look for the root cause, were finding there are many involved. But, once you identify the toxins found in your body, you can start the elimination process.

How We Treat Thyroid Disorders Related To Environmental Factors

Each person is unique and their condition is similar to a pie, meaning your Hashimotos may have been induced by multiple things. Thats why treating the whole person and making sure youre checking in on lab values is important. If toxicants are only 40% of the reason your antibodies are elevated, finding and treating the other 60% is equally important!

This is why personalized medicine is so important. Theres not a one-size-fits-all plan to support and treat autoimmune thyroid disorders, and working with a practitioner who understands that is a key to success.

Also Check: How To Stop Thyroid Medication

How We Determine If Your Thyroid Disease Is Connected To Environmental Factors

The challenge with any toxicant is to link exposure in an individual and which specific actions on thyroid function it disrupted. In todays modern society, one could easily look at a list of thyroid hormone disruptors and check many boxes of possible root causes of their autoimmune disease. So, specifically connecting toxins to an action is very challenging.

When I am doing an interview on someone, I like to ask about their environment and probe with questions that may highlight a further need for environmental testing:

  • Do you live / work in a water-damaged home or work space?
  • Do you live next to the highway?
  • Whats your regular exposure to chemicals? This includes exposure to clearly defined chemicals like pesticides, VOCs , metals and chemicals you might not think of through food, water bottles, receipts, or cheap furniture. I also like to ask what you clean your house with .
  • Where are you getting your water and do you use filtered, reverse osmosis, or tap for cooking and drinking?
  • Do you have any excessive contrast imaging studies?
  • Do you have breast implants? Other bodily implants?
  • What is your access to food like? Do you live in a food desert, or an area without access to organic foods and meats?

And thats just for starters!

RELATED: How to green your cleaning routine .

Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

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A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a persons age or family history, cant be changed.

But risk factors dont tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors. Even if a person with thyroid cancer has a risk factor, it is very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.

Scientists have found a few risk factors that make a person more likely to develop thyroid cancer.

Read Also: How To Get My Thyroid Checked

Environmental Factors That Influence Tsh And Thyroid Hormone Levels

3.1. Lifestyle Factors

3.1.1. Smoking

3.1.2. Alcohol Consumption

3.1.3. Body Mass Index

3.1.4. Diet


Brassica Vegetables

Olive Oil

Food Associated with the Development of Endemic Goiter

Other Food



3.1.5. Exercise

Table 1.Table 1.

  • Wiersinga, W.M. Smoking and thyroid. Clin. Endocrinol.2013, 79, 145151.
  • Cryer, P.E. Haymond, M.W. Santiago, J.V. Shah, S.D. Norepinephrine and epinephrine release and adrenergic mediation of smoking-associated hemodynamic and metabolic events. N. Engl. J. Med.1976, 295, 573577.
  • Melander, A. Westgren, U. Ericson, L.E. Sundler, F. Influence of the sympathetic nervous system on the secretion and metabolism of thyroid hormone. Endocrinology1977, 101, 12281237.
  • Filis, P. Hombach-Klonisch, S. Ayotte, P. Nagrath, N. Soffientini, U. Klonisch, T. OShaughnessy, P. Fowler, P.A. Maternal smoking and high BMI disrupt thyroid gland development. BMC Med.2018, 16, 194.
  • Balhara, Y.S. Deb, K. Impact of alcohol use on thyroid function. Indian J. Endocrinol. Metab.2013, 17, 580587.
  • Hegedüs, L. Rasmussen, N. Ravn, V. Kastrup, J. Krogsgaard, K. Aldershvile, J. Independent effects of liver disease and chronic alcoholism on thyroid function and size: The possibility of a toxic effect of alcohol on the thyroid gland. Metabolism1988, 37, 229233.
  • Hegedüs, L. Decreased Thyroid gland volume in Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab.1984, 58, 930933.
  • Figure 1.Figure 1.

    Environmental Agents Trigger Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

    Paul W. Mamula, PhD

    May 20, 2010

    May 20 2010 Multiple genetic and environmental risk factors can trigger autoimmune thyroid disease in humans, according to experts here at the American Thyroid Association Spring 2010 Meeting.

    Gregory A. Brent, MD, professor of medicine and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, presented the findings.

    He reported that “genetic background accounts for about 70% of the risk for autoimmune thyroid disease. The remainder is likely related to a range of environmental triggers.”

    A number of toxicants affect iodine uptake and thyroid hormone synthesis, metabolism, binding, and action, he explained.

    He noted that among the more common agents that affect thyroid metabolism are perchlorates , thiocyanates , and dioxins . Few studies assess how these agents affect humans, he added.

    “The problem is that most of these thyroid toxicants have been identified in vitro and in animal models. The significance for humans is much more difficult to assess,” said Dr. Brent.

    Dr. Brent reported that some of the risk factors for humans are medical radiation, environmental releases of radiation , environmental pollutants, and excess iodine intake.

    Medical radiation can trigger antithyroid antibodies and autoimmune thyroid disease. Dr. Brent pointed out that some patients treated with radioactive iodine for non-Graves’ disease hyperthyroidism eventually develop Graves’ disease.

    Recommended Reading: What To Do To Help Thyroid Problems

    Where Can I Find A Certified Practitioner

    Finding a well-trained Integrative and/or Functional practitioner requires research but is a vital step in treating complex and chronic illness.

    Below are links to lists of practitioners worldwide. We recommend you research the scope, expertise and experience of any practitioners you are considering.

    What Is The Thyroid

    Dr. Peter Kan on number one cause of low thyroid and 3 common triggers

    The thyroid gland is a small organ thats located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe . Its shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid is a gland. You have glands throughout your body, where they create and release substances that help your body do a specific thing. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control many vital functions of your body.

    When your thyroid doesnt work properly, it can impact your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, its called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated by your healthcare provider.

    Don’t Miss: What Doctor Do You See For Thyroid Issues

    Mold And Emf Sensitivity

    The last two environmental toxins to watch out for are a lot sneakier than the first three. You may not even realize theres an issue at first. But if a change in diet hasnt helped alleviate your hypothyroid symptoms, it may be time to investigate mold in your home or workplace and the effects of electromagnetic fields on your body.

    Goitre And Thyroid Nodules

    The most common thyroid disease in the community is simple physiological goitre. Ultrasonography has been used in epidemiological studies to assess thyroid size, leading to much higher estimates of goitre prevalence than in studies in which goitre size was assessed by physical examination. In cross-sectional surveys, the prevalence of diffuse goitre declines with age, the greatest prevalence is in pre-menopausal women, and the ratio of women to men is at least 4:1. This is in contrast to the increase in frequency of thyroid nodules and thyroid antibodies with age. In a study of 5234 subjects aged > 60 years in Framingham, clinically apparent thyroid nodules were present in 6.4% of women and 1.5% of men. The prevalence of single thyroid nodules was 3% and multinodular goitre was 1%.

    In several early autopsy surveys, up to 50% of patients had thyroid nodules and using ultrasonography between 20 and 76% of women have at least one thyroid nodule. In Germany, an area of relative iodine deficiency, thyroid nodules or goitre were found in 33% of 96 278 working adults aged 1865 years screened by an ultrasound scan. Thyroid nodules > 1 cm were found in 12% of this population and increased with age. In patients with a single palpable nodule, 2048% have additional nodules as detected by ultrasonography.

    Also Check: How To Test For Overactive Thyroid

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