Thyroid Cancer Awareness
By Wendy Wells, NMD.
Early thyroid cancer often shows no signs. During development progressive symptoms may include:
- Lump, or nodule, in the front of the neck near the Adam's apple
- Hoarseness, or difficulty speaking in a normal voice
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in neck
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Pain in throat or neck
Thyroid function tests, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, ultrasound, and fine-needle aspiration biopsy using ultrasound guidance are the most important diagnostic steps.
- Radiation - Increases papillary or follicular thyroid cancer development.
- Medical X-rays - Example; children given high-doses during 1920s and 1950s for treating problems affecting head and neck.
- Radioactive Fallout - Atomic weapons testing and production. Nuclear power plant accidents, such as the Hanford facility in Washington state in the late 1940s. Children are especially vulnerable to radiation, having an increased risk for thyroid diseases when in close proximity.
- Genetic - Inherited, or environmental alteration of RET gene.
- Gender - Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer. (United States)
- Age - Medullary thyroid cancer more prevalent at 40+ years. Ana-plastic thyroid cancer more prevalent at 65+ years.
- Race - Example; Anglo Americans are more likely than African Americans to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
- Not Enough Dietary Iodine - The thyroid needs iodine to make key hormones. Iodine is added to salt to help protect from thyroid problems.
Many traditional physicians are not aware of the antioxidant selenium and it's involvement in thyroid hormone metabolism. L-selenomethionine is the form that is most easily absorbed by the body.
Treating hypothyroidism can sometimes be as easy as adding this one nutrient. Many patients who are taking the drug Levothyroxine or T4, continue to have symptoms of low thyroid function (fatigue, weight gain, depression, constipation, hair loss, cold sensitivity, high cholesterol). This could be because they have a deficiency in Selenium and are not converting their T4 to T3 (active form). Iodothyronine deiodinase is an enzyme involved in thyroid hormone metabolism, specifically in the conversion of T4 to T3.
There is a correlation between low Selenium levels and low T3 (active thyroid hormone) levels. Studies show there may be decreased T4 levels following selenium administration, suggesting that T4 is converted to T3 at a higher rate, hence, increasing one's metabolism.
A quick way to tell if you have enough T3 is to take your Basal Body Temperature. This is done upon first awakening, before you get out of bed, place a thermometer under your arm for 3 minutes. Do this for 3 days in a row. If your temperature on average is less than 97.6, you may need more thyroid support. Other deficiencies implicated are glutathione, vitamin D, riboflavin and cobalt. Testing can be done to determine exactly which nutrient deficiencies may be present.
"Alternative" approaches include vitamins C&E, shown to reduce cancer inflammation.