When people come to us for treatment for thyroid problems, they always want to know how those thyroid problems developed. Very often, they’ve done some research on their own. This is something we applaud, but the problem is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Thyroid conditions are extremely complicated, and endocrinology is such a specialized field specifically because thyroid issues can be so difficult to track down to a source.
A lot of the time, sad to say, there’s just no way to give a definitive answer as to where the thyroid problems came from.
Many patients are still convinced that their thyroid issues come from an external cause, and there are no shortage of websites out there that like to scare people with tales of environmental toxins. While it’s true that environmental factors can influence thyroid issues, this is far less common than the Internet would like you to believe.
Here are the facts.
What You Should Know About Environmental Factors and How They Affect Your Treatment for Thyroid Problems
Endocrinologists working alongside the National Institute of Health have conducted numerous studies into the causes of thyroid issues. However, the evidence suggests that environmental factors or “toxins” may only have an impact at in maybe 30% of cases, and nearly all of those revolve around two specific factors.
One is iodine. Iodine is well known to directly affect the thyroid, and too much, or too little, iodine can definitely cause thyroid issues. However, these situations are relatively rare. Most people get enough iodine from their daily meals, particularly considering how common iodine-enhanced salt is.
The other major environmental factor is radiation. Those who have been exposed to significant amounts of radiation -enough to cause health issues- will often have thyroid problems as a result. However, actual radiation poisoning in the public is extremely rare and limited almost exclusively to those who work with radioactive materials for a living.
Nearly any other substance that’s been linked to thyroid issues, besides these two, is speculative at best. There is very little hard evidence of environmental toxins causing thyroid problems. In fact, the single greatest “cause” of thyroid issues is simple genetics. At least 70% of the time, a person has thyroid problems because they’re genetically predisposed to them.
Freeman Endocrinology is here to help. Please contact us for accurate information about thyroid problems.