Hidden Killers of Thyroid DiseaseApril 28, 2017
Why I Want To Rename “Adrenal Fatigue”May 1, 2017
Breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer – we know so much about these cancers, and we know how serious they are to our health. But do you know that the fastest increase in cancer, among both men and woman, is thyroid cancer?
In the last several years, rates of thyroid cancer have gone up four-fold! Please check out this article, and share it with your loved ones, so that everyone can learn more about thyroid cancer prevention today.
The Fastest Rising Cancer
Thyroid cancer, when compared to other cancers, is becoming more and more common. There is typically a conversation which follows about whether or not we are just getting better at diagnosing it, or if there are more occurrences of it naturally. The research states the latter, that thyroid cancer incidences are simply becoming more common (1).
Even between 2015 and 2016, we have seen a 3% increase in thyroid cancers (2). While we are getting a bit better at diagnosing it, the numbers are real and they are telling us that thyroid cancers are becoming one of the biggest cancers of our time.
Nearly every week here at Integrative Health, a doctor will save someone from undiagnosed thyroid cancer. The problem with that is that this is an epidemic, but it is not receiving the attention that it so rightly deserves. Everyone is at risk, but those who have thyroid disease are especially at risk.
In fact, my online team recently received a note from England, from a woman who saw one of my videos on Facebook. After giving herself a self-examination (3), she felt a lump. She went out and had an ultrasound performed and it revealed that she had papillary thyroid cancer.
The most startling part about this was that the nodule was hidden behind a ligament, so it might have been months before she even noticed the lump on her body. Thankfully, she was able to inspect her own thyroid, seek out an ultrasound and now is awaiting treatment that could have been more difficult or even longer had she waited.
In Conclusion: Above all else, if you do not read another word of this article, know this – seek out your doctor for an ultrasound of your thyroid, even if you are not entirely sure if something is wrong. There is information there that could save your life.
I would like to tell you even more about thyroid cancer, why we are seeing more of it and what you can do to protect yourself and others from it. Learn more about thyroid cancer, so that you can keep yourself safe from it. It is so important.
How does thyroid cancer occur?
We will start by thinking more about the nature of your thyroid. It is pretty safe to say that your thyroid is a bit of a “hoarder,” in that the thyroid gland has the capacity to concentrate iodine. This is unique because it is a relationship that we do not really see anywhere else in our body.
Key Insight: Our thyroid gland concentrates iodine, because the amount that it needs is far greater than the amount of iodine it might be able to find in our bloodstream. You will have between 50 – 100 times more iodine in your thyroid, than you would in your blood, at any given time.
The drawback of this is that the pump in your thyroid which concentrates iodine is also “hoarding” things which may not be good for you. So, you get foreign things into this important gland. That definitely does not sound good and it’s not. This is the first step in the process.
The next problem can be found in your genes. Your genes might be programmed to either make this hoarding problem worse, by attacking your thyroid gland and causing inflammation.
The third step is the high level of engagement of your immune system. When something weird gets stuck in your thyroid, and your genetics are not able to process it, your immune system essentially goes haywire. This leads to an inflamed gland, which affects cell division. This is basically what causes thyroid cancer, right then and there.
One of the things we might be able to conclude about the increased occurrences of thyroid cancers is the amount of toxic pollutants in our environment. Thyroid cancers take a long time to grow, so we are now seeing the decades of environmental pollutants taking shape into thyroid cancers (from the 60’s and the 80’s, all the way through to today).
What are the symptoms?
Just like any other cancer, thyroid cancer has its own set of symptoms that we need to be aware of when it comes to this disease. These can include:
- Lump in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice
- Difficulty speaking
- Lingering non-productive cough
Key Insight: One of the main problems with thyroid cancer is also one of its symptoms – there might be no symptoms at all! That is why regular ultrasounds and understanding more about your thyroid is so important, because you might not even notice that anything is wrong in the first place.
What types of thyroid cancer exist?
There are four main types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary and follicular are by far the most common forms. Anaplastic is the most aggressive.
Who is most at risk for thyroid cancer?
The problem with thyroid cancer is that it has the potential to affect anyone, at any age – from children to senior citizens. The good thing is that when caught early, thyroid cancer is usually treatable. Nonetheless, the process can be disruptive, costly and stressful for everyone involved (not unlike every other form of cancer).
There are definitely some telltale signs that we need to be aware of when it comes to incidences of thyroid cancer in our lives. These are just some of the ways that we might be able to know if someone is at risk for developing thyroid cancer:
- Those who have been exposed to radiation – especially with CT scans (4) and dental x-rays (5)
- Radiation therapy for other cancers, even if the head and neck are not the sites being treated
- Women in their 40’s – 50’s, and men in their 60’s – 70’s – although women, in general, are more at risk than men
- Those with thyroid nodules
- Those already with thyroid disease – hypothyroidism, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease are all indicators
- Someone with a family history of thyroid cancer
- People with certain rare diseases (multiple endocrine neoplasia, Cowden disease, Carney complex, type 1)
- People who make a high number of colon polyps
In Conclusion: Those who are at risk for thyroid cancer should be able to identify themselves from this list. If you fall anywhere around here, now is the time to learn more about your thyroid and it’s current status. Don’t guess, test and get an ultrasound today!
Action Steps For Thyroid Cancer
What kind of steps do we want to be taking so that we can prevent thyroid cancer? There are some pretty easy ones we can start doing, even today, that can help us gain a better understanding of our thyroid health.
These steps apply to anyone, and they are easy to do, please consider:
- Neck Checks – Like a self-examination, you can examine the structural integrity of your neck to see if there are any unexplained lumps that you need to check out. Set a reminder on your phone, and feel around your neck on both sides (6).
- Doctor’s Examination – As part of your yearly check-up, have your doctor examine your neck while you are there. This is a really nice complement to your self-examinations.
- Detoxify – Learn about your day-to-day exposure to pollutants and reduce it (7). Also consider testing yourself to see what has built up in your body in the past and eliminate any persistent pollutants.
For those who are at a higher risk, these are the steps you want to take:
- Keep your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels below 2.0 – TSH causes the thyroid to grow new cells, if there are thyroid cancer cells present, they will unfortunately be stimulated by the TSH.
- Get an annual thyroid ultrasound.
For those who have had thyroid cancer before, here is what you need to do. All of these steps still apply, even if you’ve had your thyroid gland removed:
- Keep Your TSH Low – In most cases, below 1.0 can give the same benefits as keeping the TSA suppressed down to near-zero. The downside about suppressing the TSH too much is that the patient is left at risk for hyperthyroid complications such as cardiac damage, bone thinning and early mortality. Older guidelines recommend keeping the TSH as low as possible to prevent recurrence. Typically patients were given a high enough dose to suppress the TSH to 0.1 or lower. Newer studies shown that the same benefits can be achieved even if the TSH is as high as 0.7. The nice thing is that this greatly lowers the risk of hyperthyroid symptoms and complications. Work with your doctor to find the right levels for you.
Did you know that September is National Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month? The combination of colors are pink, blue and teal. You can learn more about it on their website today, too (8).
Your Thyroid and You
We now know how serious, and how prevalent, thyroid cancer is becoming. That is why we need to take action steps in order to best understand our thyroid and how it has a direct effect on our overall health. It is about leading our best life and feeling good all of the time. Stay informed about this serious issue, and always keep your health in mind. Take the Thyroid Quiz today, and make sure you are always keeping a close eye on your thyroid with lots of self-examinations.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.