Turkeys and, not Christmas, but Hashimoto's

Turkeys and, not Christmas, but Hashimoto's

A seemingly bizarre paper. Though very interesting.

Seems that BUT turkeys are simply one fast growing strain of turkey that is widely raised for meat in Europe.

J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2013 Dec 9. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12150. [Epub ahead of print]

Accidental finding of Hashimoto-like thyroiditis in male B.U.T. 6 turkeys at slaughter.

Plesch P, Schade B, Breithaupt A, Bellof G, Kienzle E.


Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, Freising, Germany.


In the context of a study on the tolerance of rapeseed meal in B.U.T. 6 turkeys, thyroid glands were histologically and immunohistochemically examined because of potential thyreostatic effects. In all groups including the controls with no rapeseed meal in their food, there was a high incidence of lymphocytic infiltration and thyroiditis (14% of thyroids with moderate to severe lymphocytic thyroiditis). Thirty per cent of mononuclear inflammatory cells were immunohistochemically identified as T cells. There were occasional accumulations of PAX-5 labelled cells, indicating germinal centre development. These lesions resemble Hashimoto's disease in humans. The effect on thyroid function is unknown. Mild hypothyreosis might enhance productivity but also explain dispositions towards diseases seen in context with thyroid dysfunction such as skin diseases (foot pad disease?) and cardiovascular problems. Further studies on thyroid function in these turkeys are needed.


auto-immune thyreoiditis, turkeys

PMID: 24313909 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]



14 Replies

  • Does that mean to say that these turkeys contain something that may trigger Hashimoto's, Rod? If so I recently went to a Christmas dinner and ate turkey there.

    Jo xxx

  • rapeseed is poisonous, even insects won't touch it!

    you can however use rapeseed oil as diesel (I believe Mr Diesel invented his engine to run on peanut oil?) but the fields do look very pretty. Guess the population of Turkeys may be a bit low at the moment for further studies. :D

  • ...that should ruffle a few feathers !

  • God I am so glad I am a veggie, and have been for many years. Could you explain the rapeseed oil comment Rod, does that mean it's bad for the thyroid or just bad in general.

    Moggie x

  • I think the issue is that the researchers were investigating whether rapeseed-based feeds caused any problems and got these surprise results with both those fed on rapeseed-based feed and the others (avoiding rapeseed) both had the same Hashimoto-like issues. That would suggest the rapeseed is not the fundamental problem - though who knows if it might make it worse?

  • Thanks Rod - I asked because I work for a company that cleans and dresses (puts chemicals on) OSR and then gives it back to the farmer to plant and because of this, and the agricultural shows our company is involved in we are often given rape seed oil. Think I'll avoid it in the furture.

    Moggie x

  • Hi Rod,

    Does that mean you should not eat rapeseed oil - presumably turkeys were getting a lot of other stuff in their diet, not much of which humans would eat. Perhaps it's more of a reason to focus on organic foods that reduce inflammation reaction?

  • I think this is a red herring (if you don't mind the mixed metaphors). However it's interesting that even Turkeys can get autoimmune thyroid conditions. Given that low thyroid function makes most people gain weight it's not surprising that these turkeys are a good commercial money spinner. I think it's highly unlikely that cooked turkey would contain anything that would cause thyroid problems in someone who ate it. Especially given that Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease i.e. your own immune system turning on your own thyroid. Turkey thyroid antibodies would probably not recognise a human thyroid gland. Also if we were all catching Hashimotos from turkeys that would not explain the big difference in the numbers of women getting it compared with men - I don't think there is a link between turkey consumption and gender. Out of 6 people I know who are hypo two are vegetarians.

    I would be more interested in a study of 'binge' dieting and hypothroidism. That might account for the gender gap.

  • eeng, it makes interesting reading as I read somewhere that people can develop thyroid problems when consuming beef with thyroid tissue already in it. Not that I'm scaremongering at all, but I've pulled up this article I came across that makes interesting viewing:


    I guess the article regarding the turkeys is getting at the same thing. I'm not scientifically minded, I'm afraid.

    Jo xxx

  • Not just beef but also (in some circumstances) pork:


    I also wonder about things like whitebait where whole fish are eaten...


  • Your observation is interesting - I agree that this could very well be a fundamental issue in breeding animals for high yield. I had not really thought of this possibility before seeing the article but it does seem possible that the high weights might be achieved through thyroid issues (at least in part).

    I have often thought that some of the hugely muscled beef cattle (such as Belgian Blue, Piedmontese, Parthenais and maybe even Limousin) look as if they have Hoffman syndrome:

    Hypothyroid myopathy typically manifests as polymyositis-like myopathy with proximal muscle weakness and an increased creatine kinase level. However, it sometimes manifests as muscle enlargement (pseudohypertrophy); in adults, this condition is called Hoffman syndrome. In children with hypothyroid disease (cretinism), a pattern of proximal weakness and diffuse muscle enlargement is known as Kocher-Debré -Sémélaigne syndrome.



  • probably on some sort of hormone, like caponising chickens, don't think they do that anymore 'tho....

  • There are well known issues with breeding animals for high yield. Most milk is produced by the black and white Holstein cows, which have have a genetic defect which causes their pituitary glands to stimulate massive milk production. This however also causes the cows to have poor immune systems and many health problems.

    The hugely muscled cows you mention were originally bred to pull ploughs and carts - not for meat. When people were told to avoid animal fat these animals became popular for meat production. One of the problems for farmers is that these cattle are very agressive and dangerous.

  • Many vegetable oils (inc rapeseed oil and sunflower oil) which are high in Omega 6 are apparently highly inflammatory and generally bad for us (as well as bad for turkeys). Best to stick to lard, coconut oil and maybe olive oil for heating and flaxseed (linseed) or hemp for cold application.

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