The American Cancer society has once said that around 62,450 people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer every year. It is a big deal, and very prevalent!
A big question is, does hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's cause thyroid cancer?
Let’s explore that.
Real risk factors for thyroid cancer
Unfortunately, one of the biggest risks for thyroid cancer is being a woman. I know, not fair right! Thyroid cancer is 2.9X more common than men. There is more of an emphasis first put on that than any talk of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's. Being hypo puts you at risk, and being hashi puts you at even more risk, but perhaps not as great of risk as you might have been led to believe. Which is always great.
With hypothyroidism, NHS Inform states that only 1 in 5 thyroid cancer patients have had hypothyroidism. So there is a chance it’s correlated, but it’s not a sure thing. Here is what they say the risk factors are for thyroid cancer:
“Having a benign (non-cancerous) thyroid condition, having a family history of thyroid cancer (in the case of medullary thyroid cancer), having a bowel condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis, acromegaly – a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone, having a previous benign (non-cancerous) breast condition, weight and height, radiation exposure”
Science says they are actually more worried about thyroid cancer patients developing hypothyroidism after they have thyroid cancer.
Cancer.org does not even acknowledge hypothyroidism as a risk for thyroid cancer, instead stating the real threat of past thyroid issues would be a thyroid carcinoma.
Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Cancer together
While having hypothyroidism doesn’t always make you a target for thyroid cancer, it can make thyroid cancer even more difficult to go through. Endocrine News states this about hypothyroidism and being a cancer patient:
“With hypothyroidism, patients can experience potentially debilitating symptoms that can range in both severity and duration. Recent research has shown that many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, including fatigue, depression, memory loss, and mobility impairment, can have a significant impact on patient health. It is important for both clinicians and patients to understand the impact of risks associated with treatment for thyroid cancer such as hypothyroidism, and to make appropriate determinations regarding strategies to reduce these risks for appropriate patients in a course of care that can last for many years or decades.”
Another thing to think about is that hypothyroidism is very prevalent, about 20 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disease. Thyroid cancer is still prevalent, but it is much more rare.
Hashimotos and Thyroid Cancer
There is a bigger risk for people with Hashimoto's developing thyroid cancer. Everyday Health stated this, citing a study: “A 2013 study involving 2,478 patients revealed Hashimoto's thyroiditis is associated with a significantly higher risk for papillary thyroid cancer, the most common cancer of the thyroid gland.”
Why does Hashimoto's have more of a risk than hypothyroidism? Because with Hashimoto's, you have antibodies actually attacking your thyroid gland. This does not happen with hypothyroidism.
Unfortunately, Hashimoto's run you at more risk than just thyroid cancer, but other cancers as well. This is why I stress on the daily how we need to take care of our thyroid. Don’t neglect it till it’s too late. (With God’s love, it is never too late but you know what I mean.)
You also need to be checking for thyroid nodules regularly if you have Hashimoto's. Staying on top of testing can save your life.
One thing you can do right away to help avoid flare-ups with Hashimoto's is to avoid gluten. It’s an easy tip that you can implement today. But there are many therapies that help the thyroid. I hope my website and community prove to be a useful source for you.
Hypothyroidism is not a leading cause of thyroid cancer, however hypothyroidism can develop once one has thyroid cancer. Hypothyroidism is still a risk, but not as big as one might have thought previously. It is really Hashimoto’s that is more of a risk. If someone has hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer together, it will be tougher due to hypo symptoms.
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