Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the United States, and thyroid disorders affect millions of American women. Many breast cancers are sensitive to hormones like estrogen, and according to researchers, thyroid hormone has estrogen-like effects at high levels. So, for years, scientists have wondered whether having too much thyroid hormone might promote the development of breast cancer. A new studysuggests the answer could be “yes.”
It’s all about the thyroid
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone affects almost every cell in the body and has many crucial functions, like controlling metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature.
Some people have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can cause weight loss, thinning hair, sweating, anxiety, and a rapid heartbeat. Women are five to 10 times more likely than men to develop an overactive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid develops when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, depression, dry hair, and a slow heart rate. Like hyperthyroidism, it’s also more common in women than in men.
In an effort to determine whether having an overactive or underactive thyroid affects a woman’s risk of breast cancer, researchers looked at a large group of women in Denmark diagnosed with thyroid disease between 1978 and 2013. More than 60,000 of the study participants had an underactive thyroid, and more than 80,000 had an overactive thyroid. They followed the patients for five to seven years and found that those with an overactive thyroid had a slightly increased risk of breast cancer — an 11% higher risk, to be specific. However, women with an underactive thyroid had a 6% drop in their breast cancer risk.
Putting the study results into perspective
While this study might lead some to conclude that having excess thyroid hormone promotes the development of breast cancer, experts caution that this study does not prove cause and effect. While there may be an association, it is not clear that an overactive thyroid actually causes breast cancer to develop.
Some critics wonder whether women at risk for hyperthyroidism may also be at risk for breast cancer, or whether the treatment for hyperthyroidism may be to blame for increased cancer risk. Another theory is that women with an overactive thyroid see their doctors more often and therefore are more likely to get screened for other problems like breast cancer.
The effect of thyroid hormone on breast cancer risk clearly requires further study. In the meantime, women with an overactive thyroid should stay in close communication with their doctors and follow routine breast cancer screening recommendations.
Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11 NIV
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8 NIV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NIV
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 NIV
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24 NIV
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25 NIV
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NIV
being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5 NIV
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7 NIV
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:24 NIV
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22 NIV
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