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Mary Shomon

Why is Thyroid Cancer the Fastest Growing Cancer in the United States?

By May 4, 2009

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Every year, when the National Cancer Institute (NCI) releases the latest cancer statistics, we hear the good news that many types of cancer -- breast, prostate, etc. -- are on the decline...except for one: thyroid cancer. According to the NCI, thyroid cancer diagnoses have increased at a rate of 6.5 percent a year from 1997 to 2006.

Some experts have dismissed the trend, suggesting that it's simply the result of better detection through increased use of sensitive ultrasound. Others believe that the incidence of thyroid cancer is truly on the increase. All in all, however, the alarming trend has been overlooked.

Which is why it's interesting news that American University's (AU) Investigative Reporting Workshop has put together a set of stories, several video interviews, and a fact sheet that looks at the mystery of the increase in thyroid cancer.

AU graduate student Caroline Stetler, herself a survivor of thyroid cancer, spearheaded the project, which is available online.

Stetler's research looked at a study, published in the March 2009 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers and Prevention, which found that from 1980 to 2005, the number of thyroid tumors bigger than 2 centimeters increased. This led the study's researchers to conclude that "medical surveillance and more sensitive diagnostic procedures cannot completely explain the observed increases in papillary thyroid cancer rates."

According to Stetler: "There is now proof the increasing rate is not just a reflection of improved detection. But researchers say they really don't know what is causing the increase."

In one of the articles in her series, Stetler reviews some of the theories about what is causing the increase in thyroid cancer, including:

  • Nuclear fallout exposure
  • Heredity and the role of genes
  • Benign / autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Increased exposure to CT-scans
  • Environmental pollutants, including perchlorate, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Obesity
Note from Mary

Since we know that elevated TSH levels can be a contributing factor to thyroid cancer risk, one has to wonder whether another overlooked risk factor is the medical community's inability to agree on a normal reference range for the TSH test -- as well as the overall ignorance on the part of many doctors as to the need to treat subclinical hypothyroidism.

More Information About Thyroid Cancer

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May 7, 2009 at 5:46 am
(1) Paul Blake MH says:

Just a few observations I have made. Have you noticed that modern medicine says they need your money to find a cure and yet they have not found a cure in 60 years, 0. And autoimmune diseases like Thyroid disease are interesting there are approximately 80 to 100 with another 40 waiting for a name and if you get one you will get another and so on. And medical science cannot explain why we have this autoimmune epidemic. You can trigger one of them just by having an auto accident, taking aspirin or medication or by starting a new exercise routine, even too much stress says latest research. Naturopathic medicine says, “Look for the root, it is in the basics beginning with what is on your fork, what toxins are in your body, what exercise do you do, what stress is in your life, what is your spiritual base”. Scientific arrogance has led us down the wrong path we better stop and take a close look at what is happening. This month 150 new chemicals will be added to the 85,000 which are part of the autoimmune problem. They will be added too industry with no oversight control at all. Autoimmune disease is the worst kind of contradiction; for an Thyroid sufferer you are attacking your body with your immune system, a world upside down. God bless you in your search.

July 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm
(2) Symposier says:

This is a very interesting topic, more and more news and blogs are turning their attention to thyroid cancer and its rapid increase. In must cases the articles point to a change in people behaviors (like eating, excersicing,work) that lead to a “not healthy” lifestyle. Fortunate scientists are focusing their efforts not only in treatment but preventing thyroids cancer. The World Congress on Thyroids Cancer is a world forum created to share the latests researchs more information: http://www.symposier.com/events/viewevent/249/World-Congress-on-Thyroid-Cancer-2009

July 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm
(3) quin browne says:

i call the thyroid ‘the little gland that can’…

it is suspected that my cancer is heredity..two of my female cousins have it, too… in a lesser form, but, cancer none the less.

i find it interesting that women get it 3 to 1… and, i know more women with thyroid cancer than i do breast cancer.

sometimes, as in my case, the tsh and t4 levels are normal, even on the day of my surgery for a huge, malignant second stage tumor.

so, yes, it is great that breast cancer is on the decline, along with other ‘big’ cancers…thyroid remains the distant orphan that gets little attention or money or research… let us be honest; it has a very high survival rate–unless you have the worst kind, then, kiss your ass goodbye.

my cousins and i are lucky–so far, we’re all alive and although we deal with everything from thyroidheimers to bad blood pressure to aching joints (all caused by the effed up and now missing thyroid) we are alive.

January 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm
(4) Aaron says:

Rates for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma’s have doubled in the last 30 years. Almnost no reporting on that – most likely because of this cancer’s known link to several pesticides…

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