BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Radiation and Thyroid Health
Thyroid disorders are on the rise for both men and women.
In the United States, thyroid disease affects one in eight. The American Thyroid Association states that the causes of most thyroid problems are unknown. That is not true.
It is well known in Natural Medicine that lifestyle and environmental factors are a direct cause of thyroid issues. The main factors contributing to thyroid disease include stress, hormone fluctuations, mineral deficiencies, chronic viral infections, and radiation exposure.
Thyroid disease can involve many aspects of health and significantly affect quality of life.
Do not underestimate the effects of stress. Stress can be physical, chemical and emotional. The effects of stress are far-reaching and do negatively impact health.
Women are more susceptible to thyroid issues and have an 8-fold greater incidence than men. In menopause, the numbers increase to one in every three women.
Thyroid conditions are regularly being mismanaged by the conventional medical system.
Thyroid disorders can include gland swelling, nodules, cysts, over function, under function, changes in hormone production, auto-immune flares, and cancer.
Conventional medicine focuses on disease management. It does not focus on finding or fixing the underlying cause of thyroid disease.
Prior to a disease fully presenting, the body starts to go out of balance and symptoms develop. These symptoms are often overlooked until they progress fully into a disease. Medical treatments primarily involve drugs, surgery, and thyroid hormone replacement.
While useful, thyroid hormone replacement as a stand-alone therapy often falls short. This is because the thyroid itself needs to be addressed not just the hormone it produces.
Similarly, if a condition cannot be helped with drugs or surgery it doesn’t get properly managed. This is frequently the case with auto-immune thyroid conditions, like Hashimotos, thyroid enlargement, nodules, and cysts.
Radiation exposure lowers immune function.
The thyroid gland is extremely sensitive to radiation exposure.
Cases of thyroid disease skyrocketed after the Chernobyl accident.
You probably know at least one person who had their thyroid treated with radioactive iodine. This is a common medical treatment for overactive thyroid conditions. The radiation treatment literally cooks the gland and shuts it down.
Radiation accumulates in the body. That means that radiation exposure adds up over a life-time. Most people don’t give a second thought to it because exposure is not something we can see with the naked eye.
It is invisible to us and therefore we don’t fully see the impact on our bodies.
Even if we are not exposed directly to fall out from a nuclear reactor, we are exposed indirectly to radiation as we go along through life. Radioactive particles from nuclear eruptions are released into the atmosphere and circulate around the globe. Then the radioactive particles fall back down to the earth.
Roughly half of our annual exposure comes from medical sources. CT scans, X-rays, mammograms, nuclear medicine (where they inject dyes), and fluoroscopy procedures. This does not include radiation treatments for cancer therapy where the exposure is far greater. Other radiation exposures include food and water contamination, air travel, cell phones and the continuous fallout from past nuclear eruptions.
Protecting your Thyroid from Radiation
A simple yet unknown way to protect your thyroid from unwanted radiation is to ask for a thyroid shield during medical imaging. Ask for one if you are getting any CT scan or X-ray from the torso up. This includes mammograms.
I remember the look on the X-ray technician’s face when I asked for a thyroid shield before my shoulder x-ray. It was a look of bewilderment followed by confusion as he scrambled to “find” the thyroid shield. It was about 10 minutes before he returned triumphant with the neck guard in his hand. That experience confirmed my fear that imaging centers are not routinely offering them.
Awareness needs to spread so that people understand why they should be requesting them. Most women that I talk to are surprised to find out that they should be asking for a thyroid shield if one isn’t offered.
There are foods in mother nature’s pantry that help neutralize radiation in the body and support thyroid function. Some of the best ones come from the sea. Namely seaweed (kelp or dulse) and blue green algae, also known as spirulina.
These contain trace amounts of nourishing minerals for the thyroid gland and also work to scrub it from unwanted radiation.
- Limit your radiation exposure. There are things you can control. Stretch the limits of time within reason of recommended imaging. For example, if your dentist requests x-rays annually and you are not having issues stretch that to every 2-3 years.
- Ask for a thyroid shield for any x-rays being performed on the torso and up. This includes mammograms, shoulder x-rays, chest x-rays, dental x-rays etc.
- It is possible to help your thyroid heal and recover from damage. Radiation can be eliminated from the body using natural treatments. You will need the guidance of a practitioner who is familiar with environmental medicine who can partner with you to address your unique circumstances.
Good evening Dr. Purcell and thank you so much for taking the time to pass on such valuable information. I had no knowledge of the fact that a thyroid shield should be used during medical imaging. There are probably many people who undergo this type of treatment every year and have no clue that a thyroid shield should be used. You never cease to amaze me with your medical expertise. Thank you so much. I will be sure to convey this valuable information to all of my family and friends. You are truly an asset to your profession and your patients.
Good evening Dr. Purcell and thank you so much for this very important medical update. I had no idea that a thyroid shield should be used to protect your thyroid when under going medical imaging. Not only is this extremely valuable information for myself and my family but to all of your patients and family members. You are a credit to your profession and to your patients. You never cease to amaze me with the extent of your professional knowledge and the outstanding effort you commit to making sure all of your patients are aware of any information which they can benefit from. So, once again, thank you so very much for all that you do for us.