You should speak with your health care team about the possible risks (and precautions that can be taken) when having any procedure, including X -rays. You can read more about dental X -rays and thyroid cancer in a New York Times article.
Remember, ask your dentist or health care team about any of your concerns since they know your medical history and are best equipped to answer your questions. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, affecting a large variety of critical life functions including temperature regulation, heart rate, digestion, and muscle and brain function.
While external beam radiation therapy kills cancer cells, it can also damage the body’s normal tissues. Many patients who have radiation therapy for head and neck cancer receive radiation to the area of the thyroid gland, an important organ located in the midline lower neck.
Up to 50% of patients treated for head and neck cancer with radiation therapy develop hypothyroidism. While hypothyroidism can develop as quickly as 3 months following completion of radiation therapy, it sometimes can take years to manifest.
Your doctor will prescribe you thyroid hormone replacement, which is typically a daily pill taken in the morning. With appropriate thyroid hormone therapy, the vast majority of people with hypothyroidism do not experience symptoms.
Your doctor may initially check your thyroid function at 3 months following completion of radiation therapy, and at least yearly thereafter for the rest of your life. You should see a physician if you have symptoms consistent with low thyroid hormone levels or have a history of radiation treatment to the neck.
What I’d like to do in this article is talk about some different types of radiation, including ionizing and non-ionizing, as well as some common sources. And I’ll discuss how the health of the thyroid gland is affected by radiation.
I’ll also discuss some things you can do to minimize the negative effect of radiation on the body. This type of radiation can cause free radicals and damage to the DNA.
So whereas non-ionizing radiation is characterized by low frequencies, low energy, and long wavelengths, ionizing radiation is characterized by high frequencies, high energy, and short wavelengths. Just think of all the different ways you might have been exposed to ionizing types of radiation throughout your lifetime (regular dental x -rays, mammograms, other x -rays, security scanners at an airport, etc.
Although they aren’t as damaging as ionizing types of radiation when exposed to them on a short term basis, they can potentially cause cellular dysfunction over prolonged periods of exposure. And unfortunately in this day and age we’re constantly being exposed to electromagnetic frequencies (Emfs), which are a source of non-ionizing radiation.
And the reason for this is that the high frequencies of radiation can effectively kill cancer cells. Of course in some cases this isn’t a good thing, as most people feel horrible during these treatments, and depending on the type of cancer someone has it might only prolong someone’s life by a few months, while reducing the quality of their life during this time.
Once again, this doesn’t describe everyone, as there are some people who have gone into remission with the help of radiation treatment. There is a lot of evidence which shows that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in the development of cancer (1)(2) (3).
And so regardless of what type of cancer someone is dealing with, it is important to work on improving the health of the mitochondria. Well, these days the most common sources probably come from cell phones, computers, televisions, wireless routers, etc.
But there are other alternatives, such as thermographic, which I discussed in a past blog post entitled Is Getting Regular Mammograms Safe? Three sources of radiation have been approved for use on foods, including gamma rays, x -rays, and an electron beam (5).
Some of the foods which have been approved for irradiation include beef, pork, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, lettuce, and spinach. Once these radioisotopes are in the body they travel through the bloodstream and become incorporated into living tissue.
And of course in radioactive iodine treatment larger quantities of I-131 are used to kill significant numbers of thyroid cells in order to “cure” the hyperthyroid condition. As many people reading this already know, while this treatment is frequently successful in making the person hypothyroid, it doesn’t do anything to address the cause of the problem.
Unfortunately the radiation doesn’t just kill the cells of the thyroid gland after receiving RAI. Men who receive RAI may have decreased sperm counts and temporary infertility for up to two years (8).
I already discussed how radioactive iodine treatment (using I-131) affects the thyroid gland. It is well recognized that the use of external irradiation of the head and neck to treat patients with various non-thyroid disorders increases their risk of developing papillary thyroid carcinoma years after radiation exposure (9).
Nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima have led to an enormous increase in the incidence of childhood thyroid carcinoma. Numerous studies show that hypothyroidism is frequently observed after radiation (10)(11).
You of course want to try to reduce your exposure to ionizing types of radiation such x -rays, CT scans mammograms, security scanners at the airport, etc. Obviously you won’t be able to completely eliminate your exposure, and keep in mind that I’m not suggesting to never get dental x -rays or a mammogram.
Hopefully you don’t live too close to a nuclear facility, as this also will be a source of radiation exposure. Obviously there is also a threat of some type of catastrophe happening, especially if there is a nuclear facility nearby, and you live in an area where there are frequent earthquakes.
But these incidences are of course rare, and the greater concern is the constant exposure to the radiation emitted from these facilities. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reverse osmosis can also remove radioactive particles (14).
In regard to thyroid health, many people are familiar with the benefits of iodine supplementation in negating the effects of radiation. Potassium iodide is specifically used to help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, thus protecting it from damage from the radiation.
However, keep in mind that potassium iodide doesn’t necessarily protect other areas of the body from the effects of other types of radiation. Numerous studies have shown that taking antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals can offer protection against ionizing radiation (15)(16).
Some doctors are concerned that antioxidants might interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but fifty human studies involving 8,521 patients have shown that non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with therapeutic modalities for cancer, and that they actually enhance the killing of therapeutic modalities for cancer, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissue (17). Proposes is made by bees, as they use this to glue their hives together, with the help of beeswax and other secretions.
Since turmeric can help to prevent oxidative damage it also can offer protection against the effects of radiation (23). DIM (3,3-diindolylmethane) is found in calciferous vegetables and can also offer protection against ionizing radiation (24)(25).
For those who are concerned about the estrogenic effect of calciferous vegetables, you can take a DIM supplement. It also might help to improve sleep, reduce pain, and even thin the blood.
Although I’ve read some articles on earthing in the past, the subject caught my attention more when one of the speakers of a recent nutritional conference I attended discussed it. So for example, if you work a desk job in front of a computer and are able to keep your feet bare for at least 30 minutes per day then you can use this.
Even though I became more interested in earthing after attending a nutritional conference, I’m not suggesting that doing this alone will prevent or reverse any adverse health effects associated with radiation exposure. Some common sources of radiation include x -rays, mammograms, and food irradiation, although one also needs to consider electromagnetic frequencies (Emfs).
Please post your thyroid test results that your diagnosis was based on. I bet you have symptoms that you wouldn't of related to thyroid trouble.
Joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, bowel issues, heart issues, brain fog, moodiness, etc... She was put on medication just a little while ago, and she can forget to take her meds for days and not feel anything.
I, on the other hand, skip for a few hours for a blood test and feel fatigued for a couple of days! T4 meds take 4-6 weeks to reach full potential in the blood.