Do you want to know if there is a link between thyroid disease and smoking? Are you worried your thyroid issues could be a result of smoking and whether you should quit?
Well there are three initial questions we should address before we delve deeper in to the links between thyroid disease and smoking. You have to ask yourself:
· What is the connection between smoking and thyroid disease?
· Does smoking make my thyroid disease worse?
· Is it simply a coincidence that soon after quitting smoking I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism?
Now We Posed the Questions Let’s Answer Them Shall We?
There is a substance in tobacco smoke which affects the function of the thyroid. This component is cyanide (yes cyanide!) it is converted into thiocyanate in tobacco smoke. Thiocyanate acts as an anti-thyroid agent which stops iodine uptake in the body and the production of thyroid hormones.
There are other components of tobacco smoke which can also affect your production of thyroid hormone. Plus studies have showed people who smoke are more likely to have an enlarged thyroid. The enlargement of the thyroid could be an indicator of signs of subtle thyroid disturbance.
Let’s Take a Look at What One Medical Journal Has To Say
There was a journal article in a 1995 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine which stated smoking is associated with such a number of abnormalities of thyroid function it is likely it has several effects on the thyroid gland.
In women with low thyroid function, smoking decreases both thyroid secretion and thyroid hormone action. There is a direct link between thyroid function and smoking which is critical to recognize.
The More You’ve Smoked in Your life The More at Risk You Are from Thyroid Disease
A study in March 2000 in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing overt thyroid disease. They concluded cumulative cigarette consumption increases the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Does Quitting Smoking Lead to an Increased Chance of Getting Thyroid Disease?
In 1996 Mary Shannon a thyroid expert observed anecdotal information on a Usernet newsgroup “alt,support.thyroid” from women who were diagnosed with hypothyroidism after they quit smoking just like she was.
Mary Shannon quit smoking in July 1995 and was soon after diagnosed with hypothyroidism. She began to wonder if there was a link between the disease and smoking. She concluded she didn’t have a definitive answer whether stopping smoking “triggers” or unmasks problems with the thyroid – anecdotally she concluded there does seem to be a connection.
Mary Shannon conducted a poll of 1000 thyroid patients and 11% of the respondents were diagnosed with thyroid disease three months after quitting smoking plus 18% were diagnosed within 6 months of quitting.
Her theory was smoking/tobacco smoke/nicotine creates an artificially high metabolism which masks the fatigue/lethargy commonly seen in hypothyroidism. Meaning when a smoker quits, this mask is removed and the full effects of hypothyroidism on the metabolism is felt.
Plus for smokers with undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction, if you don’t get your problem addressed stopping smoking leads to a metabolic/weight gain double whammy. Smoking is an appetite suppressor so when you stop you want to eat more plus when you stop smoking you metabolism will slow down. Nicotine speeds the metabolism up so when you stop smoking you have no nicotine intake.
So when you quit smoking you want to eat more whilst you metabolism slows down so making weight gain pretty much a given.
So Should I Quit Smoking If I Think I Have A Thyroid Problem?
When you quit smoking it may actually make you feel worse. If you do have a thyroid problem then the symptoms which may have been masked by smoking will start to show. You may gain weight and feel extremely tired.
However at least you will know there is a health problem and you can go to your doctor and be diagnosed. Once you know you have a problem then it can be addressed and a solution sort. It can be as easy as changing your diet and lifestyle to overcome you hypothyroidism.