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Smoking and Thyroid Diseases (SIDS)


Thyroid Diseases: A Brief

Thyroid diseases basically occur on account of the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland and also due to the resultant increase or decrease in the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid diseases are primarily of two types: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which the production of thyroid hormones is significantly less in the thyroid gland and when a person suffers from hyperthyroidism, thyroid hormones are excessively produced in his body.

Causes of Thyroid Diseases

Smoking is one of the most prominent environmental factors that cause thyroid diseases and as such quit smoking is the immediate necessity to keep thyroid diseases and other smoking induced hazards at bay. Besides smoking, there are other factors also which are responsible for the occurrence of thyroid diseases in people:

  • Disorders such as Postpartum thyroiditis, hashimoto's thyroid disease, thyroiditis and even a non-functional thyroid gland leads to hypothyroidism.
  • Nodular thyroid disease and grave's disease results in hyperthyroidism
  • Iodine scarcity in the body leads to hypothyroidism as well as the presence of excessive iodine in the system aggravates hyperthyroidism in a person
  • Toxic materials found in the environment such as halogens and heavy metals
  • Tissue insensitivity towards thyroid hormones
  • Radiation exposure to the thyroid gland
  • Radioactive iodine which is frequently used to treat hyperthyroidism can cause hypothyroidism.

Smoking and Thyroid Diseases: The Connection

Smoking has been found to be one of the prominent causes of hypothyroidism and it has also been clear that smoke contains harmful ingredients that retard the functioning process of the thyroid gland. Many substances present in smoke trigger off anti-thyroid action inside the system and one among them is cyanide. On smoking cigarettes and other tobacco containing products, the ingredient cyanide enters the system and forms a specific compound thiocyanate.This new substance thiocyanate significantly prevents iodine intake and ensures the low production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism).

However, clinical studies have established that smokers are more prone to have thyroid enlargement which could be an indication of thyroid disturbance. Further, it has also been found that grave's disease (thyroid eye disease) which is specifically responsible for hyperthyroidism can be triggered off on account of smoking. An article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association which makes it clear that people who are addicted to smoking are twice more likely to develop grave disease in comparison to non-smokers.

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