Thyroid diseases, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both caused by the altered function of the thyroid gland found in the neck, have been reported to develop due to a variety of factors. Among these factors, however, research studies have recently found a connection between the use of pesticides and thyroid disease.
One of the most recent research studies, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE), discovered that exposure to fungicides and organochlorine pesticides increased the rate of hypothyroidism among women by 20 and 40 percent, respectively. Thyroid disease is most often diagnosed in women than in men.
Thyroid disease can ultimately affect overall health and wellness, manifesting in symptoms of fatigue, weight fluctuations and mental issues. Some thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and Graves’ disease, are autoimmune thyroid diseases which cause the body’s own cells to attack the thyroid gland.
Researchers in the University of Nebraska Medical Center derived these figures from clinical information collected from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), conducted in North Carolina and Iowa between 1993 and 1997.
All those enrolled in the AHS were the female partners of agricultural workers. Nearly seven percent of them reported suffering from hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid function. The typical speed of the disorder among Americans is five percent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In the AJE, several agricultural chemical classes weren’t associated with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. These comprised of fumigants herbicides, organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamate.
However, any exposure to organochlorine pesticides or fungicides resulted in a greater rate of hypothyroidism. Pesticides are an extremely toxic class of neurotoxins which includes DDT, as stated by the University of Connecticut Center for Environmental Health. This exposure can affect the proper function of an otherwise healthy thyroid.
Other studies have made similar associations between pesticides and thyroid disorder. A 1998 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that 10 percent of pesticides analyzed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were carcinogenic in laboratory rodents.
A 2003 report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – compounds used to dilute pesticides, seem to impact the volume, hormone levels and the incidence of nodules in the thyroid glands of individuals most exposed to PCBs.
Hypothyroidism slows down many of the human body’s functions, leading to fatigue, weight reduction, brittle hair and constipation, the NIDDK reports. The report adds that women are more likely to develop the illness. If you begin to notice any of the above symptoms, be sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to diagnose the presence of any thyroid disease and begin a proper treatment plan to correct the thyroid hormone disbalance.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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