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Understanding the Impact of Smoking on the Thyroid Gland

Quitting smoking concept. Hand is refusing cigarette offer.

Are you a smoker who views this vice as relieving and enjoyable especially while you relax with your friends?

Do you smoke cigarettes even if you are well aware of the health risks that smoking poses, yet still finds it very difficult to kick the habit?

If you answer “yes” to these two queries, you can certainly relate to a recent study by Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychology researcher from Harvard University.

His analysis concluded that people love smoking because it is obviously fun. In addition, the respondents to the research reckoned that the vice has a desirable calming effect.

They simply like cigarette smoking because of its rich and strong flavor as well.

You may agree with these findings, but if you learn the severe impacts of smoking on the thyroid gland, then you may think that it is high time that you finally put an end to your beloved and addictive pastime.

Research about the Effects of Smoking to the Thyroid Gland

In 2000, Thomas Heiberg Brix, MD and his colleagues from the Odense University Hospital and the Odense University in Denmark published their research involving 132 pairs of fraternal and identical twins born from 1953 to 1972.

Titled, “Cigarette Smoking and Risk of Clinically Overt Thyroid Disease: A Population-Based Twin Case-Control Study,” the researchers discovered that there is, indeed, a significant correlation between smoking and thyroid diseases.

In the 51 pairs of smoking twins, tobacco smoking had been heavier in the pair who particularly developed thyroid problems.

The results of this research is similar to the findings of another study conducted in 2007 titled, “Tobacco Smoking and Thyroid Function: A Population-Based Study” by Bjørn O., et. al.

Both of them concluded the significant impact of smoking on thyroid gland.

Smoking can lead to health hazards like hyperthyroid and hypothyroid ailments or the over-activity and under-activity of the thyroid gland, respectively.

Cyanide, a component of tobacco, is converted to thiocyanate, a chemical that inhibits the absorption of iodine into the thyroid gland.

This process diminishes the production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), leading to low thyroid function.

Smoking also increases the iodine excretion from the kidneys which leads to thyroid gland inflammation.

Apparently, with the thousands of harmful chemicals smoking cigarettes or tobacco involves, these can stimulate the body’s immune system to work against the thyroid gland.

Nevertheless, studies have affirmed that smoking’s risks to the organ are reversible.

Negative Health Effects of Smoking to the Thyroid Gland

Smoking has been addictive to people worldwide in spite of government efforts discouraging them to stop engaging in this apparently destructive habit.

For instance, in the Philippines, the disadvantageous health impacts of smoking on the thyroid gland and the other parts of the human body are presented in cigarette packs.

This initiative by the country’s Department of Health comprises the printing of graphic health warnings which include images of people with lung cancer, gangrene, and throat cancer, among others.

Nevertheless, smoking cigarettes have prevailed even if knowledge about its harms to all the human organs have already been widely disseminated.

If you are a smoker who loves cigarette smoking, you may think twice considering the following impacts of your habit to your thyroid gland.

Note also that smoking has comprehensive detriments to the human body and not just to one organ:

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

Incessant smokers whose thyroid glands have already been damaged by the poisons of tobacco smoke like the hydrocarbons, nicotine, and cyanide, may suffer from eye problems.

Also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, the Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) involves patients suffering from exophthalmos or proptosis in which their eyeballs swell and protrude.

Moreover, because of the development of squints, they are usually distressed by having double vision, irreversible optic nerve damage, as well as the constriction of the movement of their eyes.

The worst case scenario is when TED leads patients to develop the tremendously deleterious dysthyroid optic neuropathy, making them perfectly blind.

Hashimoto’s Disease

This auto-immune disorder involves the dropping of thyroid hormone levels in your bloodstream or hypothyroidism.

Your underactive thyroid gland, hence, leads you to have goiter or the enlargement of the thyroid gland itself.

Because of cigarette smoking, this persistent inflammation indicates chronic damage to the butterfly-shaped organ in your neck.

Graves’ Disease

This is a kind of auto-immune hyperthyroidism and just like Hashimoto’s disease, it also involves goiter or the swelling of the thyroid gland.

Graves’ Disease involve antibodies attacking your thyroid gland which leads to the immune system of the body to negatively react, making the organ overactive.

This disorder leads people to develop eye problems like the TED. Patients may see double because their eye movements are not coordinated anymore.

Moreover, their eyes may excessively tear as the tissues and muscles behind the eyes are swollen.

As you can see, smoking certainly has the potential to destroy the thyroid gland. If you carry on relishing this habit, chances are, it could lead you to develop more serious health dilemmas.

Quitting Smoking as Means to Prevent Damage to the Thyroid Gland

Considering the dire impacts of smoking on the thyroid gland, it is obvious that the best way to completely mitigate this scenario is by quitting smoking.

Robert D. Utiger, MD, an endocrinologist from the Harvard Medical School, described smoking as obliterating the thyroid gland as a whole.

He explained that cigarette smoke includes “a whole carload of chemicals” like cyanide, nicotine, and hydrocarbons which are certified poisons.

Utiger affirmed that studies like the popular one conducted in Denmark are effective pieces of evidence that smoking is, indeed, associated with various types of thyroid problems.

Apparently, if you are a smoker, it is best that you completely understand that smoke comprises thousands of harmful chemicals.

Moreover, smoking diminishes the amount of oxygen in the tissues in your body, hence, causing inflammation, particularly to the back of your eye.

If you are finding it challenging to stop smoking perfectly, it is best to speak to your physician about the medical options that may eventually assist you.

If you are already suffering from the negative impacts of smoking on the thyroid gland and is on medication but still continues smoking, there is a greater chance that your thyroid therapy will be ineffective.

Bear in mind that smoking will only make your thyroid gland worse. Plus, it will accelerate your progression towards a more serious thyroid disorder and other severe health concerns.

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