To Your Health
December, 2021 (Vol. 15, Issue 12)
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Weight Loss Helps Prevent Thyroid Cancer

By Editorial Staff

With so much research suggesting being overweight or obese increases your risk of suffering – well, just about every health issue imaginable – it's good to know losing the weight can have health benefits.

Reducing your cancer risk – in this case, thyroid cancer – is just one of those benefits.

The thyroid doesn't get much attention until something goes wrong with it. Located in front of your windpipe, this butterfly-shaped gland secretes hormones that influence metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. Everything runs as planned unless your thyroid becomes over- or underactive, meaning it produces too much or too little of these hormones. And of course, cancer can strike the thyroid, just as it could any other organ in the body.

That brings us back to the weight-loss conversation and how it can reduce thyroid cancer risk. Researchers determined that obesity is responsible for 21.4 percent of thyroid cancer cases in men and 10.1 percent in women; but also that if obese individuals lost weight (to achieve overweight status, rather than obese), nearly 10 percent of thyroid cancers could be avoided. Their study is published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Thyroid cancer isn't as common as colon, breast or other cancers, but it still accounts for an estimated 44,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths annually, according to the American Cancer Society. If simply losing weight helps reduce your risk of being diagnosed – or dying – from thyroid cancer, isn't it worth dropping the pounds? Easier said than done, we know. Your doctor can help formulate a sensible exercise and healthy-eating plan that works for you.