While the effects of smoking tobacco are mostly associated with damage to the lungs and heart, there is no organ in the body that doesn’t suffer from it. With the change in smoking habits like increasing use of vapers, there has been an increased criticism on these activities especially on thyroid health. The thyroid gland in particular is one of those organs that greatly suffer but is often overlooked. On the outlook, smoking has been found to worsen the symptoms of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. In addition, it increases your chances of developing several disorders including the Graves’ disease.
The Thyroid Function
According to studes, tobacco smoke contains substances that have been harmed to the thyroid gland and its functions in the body. Cyanide in particular, which is converted to the thiocyanate interferes with the functioning of the thyroid through:
- Inhibiting the absorption of iodine into the thyroid gland, this in turn reduces the production of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine.
- Inhibiting the production of hormones by impeding the synthesis process of hormones in the thyroid gland.
- Increasing the excretion of iodine from the kidneys, this in turn increases the thyroid gland’s risk of suffering from inflammation.
When you are suffering from hypothyroidism, a condition which is characterised by low thyroid function, just a slight drop in your body’s T3/T4 levels will result to complicated symptoms of mood swings, fatigue, and weight gain, and even reverse the positive effects of your treatment. The effects of thiocyanate chemical on the thyroid gland are often reversed by the nicotine in cigarettes. In other words, nicotine has effects the thyroid gland in a different way by activating the function of the thyroid gland and reducing some of the inhibitory effects of thiocyanate.
Concerns in Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
Smoking cigarettes leads to persistent inflammation which in turn can result to the enlargement of the thyroid gland. This is a very major concern for those people suffering from Hashimoto’s disease and the Graves’ disease.
1. Graves’ disease
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune hyperthyroidism condition that is normally characterized by the enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter). This condition is twice likely to affect those people who smoking than those who do not. In addition, people who are living with the disease and smoke are often associated with conditions like deterioration of the symptoms, faster disease progression, and a poor response to treatment.
2. Hashimoto’s Disease
While the association between cigarette smoking and Hashimoto’s disease is often not clearly defined, it appears to slightly diminish the thyroid functions while also encouraging the development of goiter. According to research done by the University of Cincinnati, in areas where there is high iodine in take like the US, cigarette smoking has been found to increase the risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
On the outlook, it is obvious that the negative effects of smoking cigarette outweigh its perceived benefits. As we have seen, it only affects the thyroid gland’s functions as well as speeding the progression of all forms of thyroid disease including thyroid cancer.