Hashimoto’s disease is also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is one of the most common causes of thyroid disease in the United States. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder in which autoantibodies are produced against thyroid gland and prevents the production of enough thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormone is essential for basic metabolism in the body, regulation of growth and maturation, heartbeat, body temperature and other important functions in the body. The deficiency of thyroid hormones lead to various signs and symptoms in the body as it is associated with the proper functioning of most of the organs.
Can Hashimoto’s Cause Cancer?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease and there has been a link between autoimmune disease and cancer development. Several studies in the last decade have connected autoimmune disease with a higher risk of cancer development. A Chinese study showed a twofold risk of developing esophageal cancer in the presence of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is a disease in which the immune system produces antibodies against its own cells, whereas, in cancer the body is unable to control the abnormal growth of cells. Hence, both these conditions seem to be connected, but again further studies need to be carried out to confirm their connection.
Numerous studies have shown an inter-relation between Hashimoto’s disease and cancer (mostly thyroid cancer or papillary thyroid carcinoma). The risk of cancer is greater in women than in men with Hashimoto’s disease. According to American Thyroid Association, thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer among women in United States. There is a longstanding debate between the relationship of Hashimoto’s disease and thyroid cancer. It is still not clear whether Hashimoto’s disease causes thyroid cancer or whether the inflammation in the surrounding tissue is a result of thyroid cancer. There are still numerous studies and analysis going about in this respect, which have also found an increased risk of myelo-proliferative and lympho-proliferative neoplasms, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer in patients of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s disease cellular changes surrounding the thyroid cancer have been frequently observed at the time of thyroid cancer excision. Patients who had papillary cancer along with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis had a better prognosis in terms of cancer recurrence as compared to patients who had papillary cancer without Hashimoto’s disease.
These studies have found an inter-relationship between thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s disease, but still further studies are required to confirm and determine the kind of relationship. The patients with Hashimoto’s disease have an increased incidence of carcinoma and it has been suggested that it might be a precancerous condition, but still further studies are needed to confirm this finding.
Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a very slow progressing condition, which typically does not produce any symptoms in the beginning, but longstanding Hashimoto’s disease causes thyroid damage leading to decreased production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine or T3, tetraiodothyronine/thyroxine or T4 and calcitonin) regulate the basic metabolism in the body, and its growth and maturation. It may also present with a swelling on the anterior neck/throat area leading to goiter formation. The signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include fatigue, malaise, lethargy, increased cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, brittle nails, hoarse voice, dry hair, hair fall/thinning, puffy face, tongue enlargement, weight gain, muscular pain/stiffness/weakness, joint pain/stiffness, decreased heart rate, abnormal menstrual bleeding, infertility, memory issues and/or depression.
Why Is There a Link between Hashimoto’s Disease and Cancer?
Iodine deficiency has been linked to both Hashimoto’s disease and cancer. Hashimoto’s disease is related to hypothyroidism, which has decreased production of T3 and T4 hormone and iodine is considered the building block of these hormones. Iodine has many functions in the body including regulation of endocrine glands. It is estimated that about 74% healthy individuals are deficient in iodine. Therefore, it becomes imperative if you suspect Hashimoto’s disease and get checked for hypothyroidism one should also get tested for iodine level. Hashimoto’s patients are treated with synthetic thyroid replacement in the form of levothyroxine.