March 2017
  This newsletter does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is intended for informational purposes only. Although it cites government recommendations
on a variety of health topics, this information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your
health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or issue.

Thyroid: Little Gland, Big Health Influencer


When it comes to metabolism, the thyroid is a powerhouse. The butterfly-shaped gland, which is located at the base of the throat in front of the voice box, influences nearly all metabolic processes.

The thyroid produces thyroid hormone, which travels through the bloodstream and affects nearly every part of the body. The thyroid hormone controls how cells use energy from food (metabolism). And the metabolism affects body temperature, how fast calories are burned and the speed of the heartbeat, among many other functions.

The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. The body doesn't make iodine, so the way to get it is through food. Iodized table salt is rich in iodine. Other sources include shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, dairy products, and seaweed. Iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S.

Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone. These conditions are called hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid



hormone). When the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones, there is an imbalance of chemical reactions in the body. There can be many causes for this, including autoimmune disease, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery and certain medications.

When hypothyroidism isn't treated, symptoms can gradually become severe. Constant stimulation of the thyroid gland to release more hormones may lead to an enlarged thyroid or goiter.


In addition, hypothyroidism can cause forgetfulness, slow thought processes and even depression. Women are more likely than men to develop thyroid disease, especially following pregnancy and menopause.

Although hypothyroidism most often affects middle-aged and older women, anyone can develop the condition, including men and infants. 

Some babies are born with a thyroid gland that did not develop correctly or does not work at all. Most hospitals screen babies at birth for the disease.

Babies born to women with untreated thyroid disease may have a higher risk of birth defects. They are also more prone to serious intellectual and developmental problems. But if the condition is diagnosed within the first few months of life, the chances of normal development are excellent.

Sources: Mayo Clinic;;


Hypo or Hyper Thyroid: What is the Difference?

The thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, also called underactive thyroid. This slows down many of the body's functions, like metabolism. Symptoms develop slowly, often over several years:

  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Slow heart rate
  • Less sweating than usual
  • A puffy face
  • A hoarse voice
  • Heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Too-high LDL, or “bad” cholesterol

The thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone. This speeds up many of the body's functions, like metabolism and heart rate. Over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss, even when eating the same or more food (most but not all people lose weight)
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trembling in hands and fingers
  • Increased sweating
  • Feeling hot
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fewer menstrual periods
  • Bulging eyes
  • Higher osteoporosis risk

1 in 8
women develop thyroid problems in their lifetimes. Men are affected less frequently.


of people will develop thyroid nodules, another name for growths.


of thyroid nodules will become cancerous.



The Take-Away:
While most thyroid growths are non-cancerous, any growth on the gland should be reviewed by a doctor.; National Cancer Institute;;
Benign Growths and Thyroid Cancer

The good news: most thyroid growths (which are called nodules) do not cause symptoms and are not cancerous. They can cause other issues, however. Some nodules make too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism. Sometimes, nodules grow so big that they cause problems with swallowing or breathing.

Treatment depends on the type of nodule and how large it is. Treatments include:

Watchful waiting. If the nodule is not cancerous, the doctor may decide to track its progress with regular physical exams, blood tests, and perhaps thyroid ultrasound tests. If the nodule does not change, it may not need treatment.
Surgery. Surgery may be necessary to remove nodules that cause problems breathing or swallowing.
Radioiodine. This type of treatment is helpful for nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. Radioiodine causes nodules to shrink and make smaller amounts of the hormone.

Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other cancers. Most thyroid cancers are very curable. In fact, the most common types of thyroid cancer (papillary and follicular) are the most curable.

In younger patients, both papillary and follicular cancers have a more than 97% cure rate if treated appropriately. Both papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are typically treated with complete removal of the lobe of the thyroid where the cancer is located, in addition to the removal of most or all of the other side.

The main treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to take out the whole thyroid gland or as much of it as can be safely removed. Surgery alone can cure thyroid cancer if the cancer is small and has not yet spread to lymph nodes.;

How Much Do You Know About Your Thyroid?
Go to the bottom of the newsletter to check your answers.
1. Thyroid diseases affect more men than women.


2. Thyroid cancer is a serious disease.
3. The body produces iodine, which is needed for thyroid health.

4. Most thyroid growths are benign, so they’re safe to ignore.


Savory Lentil and Spinach Soup

Serves:   10

Total Fat::

180 mg


MaMakes about 10 one-cup servings


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 sprig (2 to 3 inches) fresh rosemary
  • 1 package (7 ounces) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add lentils, broth, water, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Stir in pepper.
  5. Serve or refrigerate. (Bring refrigerated soup to a boil before serving.)
Recipe Published in Consumer Reports
Answers to the Health Test!

1. False. Women are more likely than men to develop thyroid disease, especially following pregnancy and menopause.
2. True. Like all cancers, thyroid cancer IS serious. But it’s one of the most curable cancers, especially if detected early.
3. False. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. Because it doesn't make iodine, the way to get it is through food.
4. False. That’s a big, fat negatory! While only 1% of thyroid nodules are cancerous, never ignore a growth.

Sources:;; Mayo Clinic;