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Thyroid nodules are important because they are usually the first sign of thyroid cancer. Among all cancer types including breast, uterine, and colorectal, none are increasing as fast as thyroid cancer. The best thing you can do to lower your risk is to find out if you have thyroid nodules and if so, manage them carefully.
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What are Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid nodules are lumps of thyroid tissue that don’t work right. They keep on growing more than your body needs them to and they normally don’t make thyroid hormone properly.
What causes them?
Too much iodine and exposure to radiation are two big causes. In the past, some were caused by too little iodine. In many cases there is no clear cause, but they are much more common in those who have Hashimoto’s disease or hypothyroidism.
How likely are they?
You’d be amazed. If you are an adult with thyroid disease, you probably have thyroid nodules. Even if you don’t have thyroid disease, the odds of having nodules are about the same as your age in years. For example, a 60-year old has about a 60% chance of having nodules.
How dangerous are they?
Most are harmless. In fact, 93% of nodules never do anything bad. Yet they are worth paying attention to because 5-7% can carry thyroid cancer.
Apart from harboring cancer, nodules can be a nuisance. If they get too big, they can be unsightly. Sometimes they are uncomfortable and they get in the way of speaking and swallowing.
How would you know if you have them?
Thyroid nodules are discovered in three main ways: self exam, physicians’ exam, and thyroid ultrasound.
Most of us have heard about recommendations that women do self-breast exams. It is recommended that people with thyroid disease do a monthly neck exam. Here is a post that teaches you how to do it, click here. These are helpful because you can notice changes to your thyroid as soon as they start to happen.
Ideally adults would get an examination of their thyroid each year as part of their routine physical exam. Doctors are better at knowing what normal thyroid tissue feels like and can often detect small nodules.
Yet if you are regular about your neck exams, you can be even better about knowing what your tissue should normally feel like. If you notice that yours has changed, let your doctor know right away.
In most cases nodules are first detected on a thyroid ultrasound. This is a procedure that doctors use to evaluate the structure of the thyroid gland. From it they can learn the gland’s size, whether it has any apparent diseases, and how likely it is to have cancer.
Many endocrinologists recommend thyroid ultrasounds for everyone with thyroid disease. Some suggest they should only be done if the thyroid feels sore or enlarged. In any case, ultrasound studies are harmless since they are non-invasive and do not use radiation.
Some people will find nodules themselves. They or a friend might notice a lump on their neck. Perhaps they will feel something abnormal while speaking or swallowing.
How to Manage Thyroid Nodules
To manage thyroid nodules, it is important to stay on track of their size and take any steps to keep them from enlarging.
When you get an ultrasound, the doctor should give a suggested timeframe to repeat it. If not, be sure to ask. Then, be sure to set a reminder to have it repeated when the time comes due.
There are four main things you can do to keep your nodules from growing:
- Limit your iodine intake. Avoid supplements with iodine and limit high-iodine foods like iodine-rich salt, dairy, processed grains, egg yolks, sea vegetables, and some types of seafood. Also learn about iodine in cosmetics and avoid it. You can find detailed guidelines in the Thyroid Reset Diet.
- Keep your liver lean and healthy. It turns out that fat in the liver creates inflammatory chemicals that cause nodules to grow. To reduce liver fat, follow the 28-day plan in the Metabolism Reset Diet.
- Use nutraceuticals to help. High quality human studies have shown that safe, natural ingredients can often shrink thyroid nodules. They can also slow down the rate of nodule growth and lower the risk of nodules becoming cancerous. Nodule Control is a custom nutraceutical blend made just for these purposes. Learn more at HERE )
- If you’re on thyroid medication, be sure you’re on the best dose. Too little can stimulate nodules to grow. Too much can prevent healthy thyroid tissue from keeping the nodules in check. Here is an article that can help you figure out how much is best. Are You On The Right Amount of Thyroid Medication?.
If you don’t know whether or not you have thyroid nodules, now is the best time to find out. If you have them, now is the best time to take action. The steps you take can lower the risk of thyroid cancer and other complications from the nodules.
Try the Thyroid Quiz today (Click Here: Take the quiz) to learn more about your thyroid and the impact it may be having on your overall health.
P.S. Whenever you are ready, here is how I can help you now:
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Need A Thyroid Supplement Recommendation? Take My Thyroid Specific Formulations Quiz Now
3. Need a Personalized Supplement? Check out My Thyroid Specific Formulations
4. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
5. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.