Environmental Causes of Thyroid Cancer

Updated at: Jun 07, 2012
Environmental Causes of Thyroid Cancer

Many environmental factors cause thyroid cancer. You should be informed about these environmental factors to prevent thyroid cancer.

Vatsal Anand
CancerWritten by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: Jun 06, 2012

Main function of thyroid gland is regulation of energy level in the body. Your pulse and heart rate is determined by the function of your thyroid gland. High iodine level in children is linked with higher incidence of thyroid cancer. Certain chemicals found in the air and water also cause disruption in the thyroid function, even leading to cancer. The environmental causes of thyroid cancer are those which increase the risk of the disease.


Causes of Thyroid Cancer


Radioactive release

Radioactive release, whether from a weapons testing site or a nuclear weapons plant, increases the risk of thyroid cancer. This is evident from the fallout of thyroid cancer in residents of Utah and Nevada in USA. The greater the nuclear radiation, the more is the risk of cancer. Disasters such as the Chernobyl meltdown released much more radioactive substances than the usual, and thus, the risk was much more.

Chemical pollutants

High amount of perchlorate causes a problem in the functioning of thyroid and it can also lead to cancer, but that is yet to be established. According to a study undertaken by Centers for Disease Control of USA, perchlorate contamination, if high enough, is one of the environmental factors altering thyroid function adversely, especially in infants and pregnant women. Moreover, since thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating growth and development in childhood, the more a child is exposed to perchlorate, the more are his chances of having his cognitive function impaired.

Although an increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) does not lead to cancer on its own, it can lead to various disabilities. However, in a study undertaken by Copenhagen researchers to find out whether environmental toxins cause thyroid cancer, they have noted the relationship between chemical and increased TSH. They have stated that such an increase provides increased opportunity for thyroid cancer development after mutations.

Iodine ingestion

Daily intake of dietary iodine can cause an excess of the element in the body, and this adversely affects the functioning of thyroid. A large segment of population in USA and other countries consumes 1 mg of iodine daily. Some data have been reviewed that support the view that thyroid cancer can be caused by excess iodine ingestion, particularly in some individuals who are prone to the disease.

Exposure to X-rays

According to National Cancer Institute of USA, people exposed to high dose of X-rays are more inclined to get thyroid cancer. So, people should get an X-ray done only when it is needed for diagnosing some life-threatening or very serious disorder. They should not use it for acne, scalp infection or enlargement of tonsils.


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