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Smoking Tied to Risk of Enlarged Thyroid/Goiter
Thyroid News / From Mary Shomon Your Thyroid Guide

March 2002 -- According to research published in the February 25, 2002 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, smoking may increase your risk of developing an enlarged thyroid gland, known as a goiter, in areas that suffer iodine deficiency.

Iodine deficiency is not very common in the U.S., but on the rise. While iodine is found in seafood, iodized salt and some other foods, salt-restrictive diets among some Americans have been increasing the risk of iodine deficiency. In many developing countries, and in various part of Europe, iodine deficiency is more commonplace.

Cigarette smoke contains thiocyanate, a chemical that can interfere with the thyroid's ability to use iodine. In the research, Danish experts studied adults with some iodine deficiency, and discovered that smokers were almost three times more likely than nonsmokers to have a goiter.

The researchers also found that the connection appeared strongest among women in their 40s.

Former smokers had only a slightly increased risk of goiter, compared to current smokers.

(SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine 2002;162:439-443.)

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