Your thyroid is located just above your collarbone and sits above your throat. Some describe its shape like that of a butterfly.
This endocrine gland is responsible of setting the tune & rate of all of your other cells. It helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should. When out of balance it can cause your thyroid hormones to be high, a condition called hyperthyroidism. Some patients may experience symptoms such as unquenched hunger, feeling hot, fast heartrate, racing mind, irritability and an increase in bowel movements. This is treated with anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine or surgery.
On the other hand when your thyroid hormones are low this is called hypothyroidism. This can cause fatigue, feeling cold, constipation, brittle nails, thin hair, gaining weight easily and dry skin.
Your thyroid gland can also be susceptible to cancer. There has been a steady rise in thyroid cancer. The cause of this increase is unclear. Known risk factors for thyroid cancer are hereditary, low iodine diet, female gender and radiation exposure.
Some epidemiologist argue that the increase is due to over-diagnosis as a result of better imaging and medical equipment. Some studies have shown an association with obesity and environmental pollutants. A recent study found more polybrominated diphenylethers (also known as PBDE) in the house dust of papillary thyroid cancer patients. However, the presence of PBDEs in the blood of these patients was low or undetected. PBDE’s is a chemical flame retardant used in electronics, furniture manufacturing, clothing, certain pesticides & some plastics.
Hoffman K et al. discussed that exposure to PBDEs and other endocrine disrupting chemicals may increase the risk of thyroid cancer. As the name applies, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that affect the action of your endocrine glands, your thyroid being one of them.
Common endocrine disruptors are bisphenol A (BPA), polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), perfluoroalkly substances (PFAs) and organochlorines (OCs). I highly recommend that you use High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter vacuums and HEPA filter air purifiers. It is also a good idea to buy organic produce, get a (drinking) water filter, take your shoes off when entering your home and avoiding eating or drinking out of plastic containers. All of these can help reduce some of your exposure to these pollutants.
Lastly, a great resource is the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) it has many articles and things you can do to help reduce your exposure to environmental pollutants that are found in your home & beauty products.
If you would like to meet with one of our doctors to discuss any thyroid issues, please call our office at 916.351.9355.