What are your doctors saying about the cause of... - Thyroid UK

Thyroid UK
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What are your doctors saying about the cause of non-genetic thyroid issues?


The one thing that I have not seen mentioned on here is what the doctors are saying about why people have got their problem in the first place.

I know that some problems have a family link but not mine.

I had a toxic thyroid which made me very hyperthyroid and I was given no alternative but to have the complete thyroid removed last month.

When I first saw my GP with symptoms, then later the Endo, plus the doctor in charge of the Dept. of Nuclear Medicine, and even the surgeon, they have all said that this problem was most likely as a result of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. It seems that the medical profession in France (where I live) are well aware of an upturn in cases of problems like mine due to the disaster (I lived in the Lake District in 1986) and the medical profession in Germany and the other Northern European countries are tracking this increase in cases.

Has this ever been suggested to anyone in the UK?

27 Replies

I am simply hypothyroid. My doctor accepted it. I take levothyroxine.

But I have not decided what the cause might be! Most certainly my doctor has never made any suggestion (beyond ordering an antibody test which was negative).

Suspicions have fallen on lots of things - including it being some sort of reaction to giving up smoking.

PinkNinja in reply to helvella

I've heard about the smoking thing before. I'm trying to remember if my hypothyroidism occurred at the same time that I stopped smoking and I think it did, but I also think I was borderline for a very long time before that. I do wonder if perhaps quitting smoking was the proverbial straw.

I gave up smoking in 1988 and I didn't become hypo until 2007. Mine was triggered by the menopause.

There could be a link to smoking in some people but maybe not every case.

Yes, there seem to be several relatively common triggers. It's a very strange illness, and what I find even stranger is how little doctors seem to know about it, especially given how common it is. Perhaps that's half the problem ;)

Please can you tell me about antibody tests? Is it something a GP wouldnt mind letting you have? If I could understand it so I can ask next time. Thanks.

If chernobyl is the cause then there is going to be many more patients very soon in Alaska where the Japanese plume ended up. I believe it has gone quiet in the media, but that the problem of radiation leakage is still just as bad or even worst now. The radiation is quite high so the authorities dealt with it by increasing the scale of permitted contamination rates, and stopping posting the levels online.

I remember that I lived in the penines at the time of chernobyl and it rained as the plume passed over, so could be my problem too. I remember that the sheep in north Wales were destroyed as not fit to enter the food chain due to contamination, but we were not told about what to do to protect ourselves. I now have some iodine ready for any future disaster, you need to load up just before the fallout arrives and it will not damage you as much. You can buy it from America and it keeps forever, get some from iherb.

I wrote to my local MP about the fact that iodine is not a legal substance any more, and the gist of my letter was that if there is a disaster locally, and a nuclear power station fails, how are they going to distribute iodine to the population in time to prevent injury. Of course I got no reply, as I have come to expect from these guys. Give them a difficult question and they ignore it ! But they are always posing in newspapers to gain a bit of publicity, what fine people they are.

There is definitely a connection between thyroid disorders and radioactivity. I do not think it is a coincidence that many people of my age group (60s to 70s) have increased thyroid problems, since iodine 131 was found in school milk in the 1950s as a result of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. It was one of the reasons testing in the atmosphere was banned in the 1960s.

I was diagnosed with a toxic thyroid at 13 years of age in 1958.

sidneymark70 in reply to marram

Wow the things I find out on here. I was born in 1944 and drank a bottle of milk every day until I was 11.

They say mine was killed by a virus or when I got food poisoning

My sister and I both had thyroid problems after having a hysterectomy .

It would be nice if my NHS gps and endos would admit that I even have a thyroid problem let alone discuss where it has come from (bloods in normal ranges etc ) lol. Dr P thinks it has stemmed from exhausted adrenal function in turn affecting my thyroid functioning. I have no family history of it and there are no auto immune issues either so I agree with Dr P .

Oh dear, all this puts most people at some kind of risk. Not sure why my TSH went to 14.5 in 2004 --- my father remarried (total disaster) . my stress levels were even more of the wall. But- no questions asked??? just go on T4 it'll be fine. on NO it wasn't. Why do people develope immune problems if it is not genetic? Stress perhaps?

That's an impressively 'fresh'/novel thought considering the question is one so basic France.

Despite this it seems beyond generalised assertions to be pretty much ignored by medicine and the system.

Here's an impressively minimalist but scarily classic 'doctor knows best/us experts have it all in hand' type infomercial type piece (complete with picture of hunky doctor/expert dude in white coat) that as is fairly typical skates over the topic: umm.edu/patiented/articles/...

It's difficult to pinpoint quite why this is so.

One basic reason is that it's probably inevitable given the longstanding focus of the profession/industry on illness rather than wellness. An ill person is basically a valuable customer, while a well person kept that way by preventive measures is not.

I guess (to expand on your point about radiation) there's a gazillion public health/societal issues where not engaging at a holistic/preventive level avoids the risk of their being brought into conflict with other powerful vested interests - stuff like the use of dental mercury, dodgy and deficient foodstuffs (there's much worse than horse burgers out there), the aforementioned radiation issues, 'defence' matters, fluoridation of drinking water, likely side effects of vaccination, emission of toxins and different sorts of radiation from materials and devices routinely sold for use in the living and working environment, side effects of scans and medicines.... and so on.

It's probably not by accident that the more structured discussions regarding the causes of thyroid problems tends to come from holistic practitioners - they tend to be more interested in treating conditions at the level of causes.

Some reasons that do seem to be about in addition to genetics and specific 'mechanical issues' (problems with the various glands involved etc) include high/chronic stress levels, major incident/crisis points in life, diets deficient in key vitamins and minerals including iodine, copper, selenium and the like; diets including problematical foods, and toxicities of various sorts including the presence of metals like mercury.

It seems like it may first seem to come to notice as a thyroid function issue, but since it (by slowing the metabolism) affects the performance of pretty much every organ in the body and vice versa the effects snowball - with gut, brain function and immune axis and other systemic conditions quickly coming to the fore.

Who knows what is cause, and what is effect?

It's not a simple subject, and can get into some very complex and far from conventional territory. There's for example good reason to think that while there are lots of external and/or objective factors that may worsen and/or trigger the condition it's one that in a pretty direct manner manifests mind/energetic/life/beingness issues too...


helvellaAdministrator in reply to vajra

There are very many things that could be related:

Endocrine-disrupting compounds such as phthalates, bisphenols, etc.

Huge increases in soy consumption.

Low fat diets.


Numerous viral diseases.

Low vitamin D levels.

Less iodine used as teat disinfectant.


It is so very difficult for us out here to come to any sensible conclusions.

Crikey....you know this could be a fact. There are 5 people in my partners family who are underactive and I have 2 friends who are also underactive. Unitl I was diagnosed 11 years ago now, I had never heard of Thyroid disease. Kath

Feel sure mine are to do with antibiotics lowering my whole system. Hopefully am about to get some answers via dermatology problems. Will post when I do.

Thanks for the responses - it is interesting to find out what other people think and have been told. The main point I think is that in Europe we are being told that radiation is causing the problem (I know other people who have had TT and each of them were told the same). I just wonder why nothing is mentioned in the UK.

Assuming I came across the radiation through the Chernobyl cloud (and to be honest I cannot think where else it could be) it just seems ironic as I have tried to be healthy. Don't smoke or drink and maybe that healthy walk in the rain all those years ago that has effectively stolen a part of my later life.

I suffer from hypothyroidism which was caused as a result of the treatment I have had for Atrial Fibrillation (i.e. a prolonged course of Amiodarone, which is known to cause Thyroid problems and four cardioversion procedures to try to correct my heart arythmia, also known to cause problems with the thyroid gland due to the nature of the treatment - electric shocks to the heart via the chest). Both of these medical treatments for an irregular heart rate are known to cause thyroid problems but the medical profession considers this an acceptable risk.


I was born in 1953. Smoked 20 a day 1972-2006. Lived in Cornwall, Wales and Buckingamshire. Went through the menopause 2006-7. First became hyperthyroid around 1997-9. Had treatment. Thyroid behaved until 2002-3 when I started to lose weight again (yipee). Finally the palpitations and (exaggerated in my view) threat of osteoporosis made me seek treatment again in 2005-6 which resulted in hypothyroidism ever since. I don't think there's any thyroidism in my ancestry. None of my family have ever suffered with it. So I'm just lucky I guess :o{

funny you should mention this as my dad had wondered about it. I live in scotland and developed thyroid problems around 1987 (age 7)

from wikipedia

Contamination from the Chernobyl accident was scattered irregularly depending on weather conditions, much of it deposited on mountainous regions such as the Alps, Wales and the Scottish Highlands, where adibatic cooling caused rainfall.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to Hashi_since_age9-1988

I'd be very wary of that statement.

The word should be ADIABATIC - and, bizarrely, the link from that word does indeed go to "Adiabatic process". Clearly someone did not know what they were writing.

I do not classify that as a typo - it smacks of ignorance. That is thee sort of word that if you understand it at all, you do not get it wrong.


Though it certainly is true that parts of Wales got a relatively higher dose.

Thank you very much for this post. Chernobyl has been on my list of possible causes for years, I was living in Norfolk and the cloud passed right over head. I can't remember if it was raining. At the time it was said that it would take about 20 years for the problems to manifest.

What an interesting post everybody thank you. I am interested in addictions and addictive personalities, the condition being rife in society, more so than many realise. It does not matter whether the mind altering substances are drugs of many kinds including tobacco, food, sex, relationships or alcohol, the underlying codependency is all the same. Within this culture stress is abundant with much sickness arising, sometimes resulting in thyroid disease. Ian in his last paragraph eloquently explains this.

I have spent a lifetime attempting to break patterns for the next generation to benefit by but it is no easy task; Dr Lefevre an expert on addictions stated "it is like an evil liquid", how true as it permeates society running here there and everywhere.

There are many possible causes of thyroid disease as well documented above but codependency addictions are one area of life that are sadly all too often overlooked because denial is a hard nut to crack, it can lead to thyroid disease because of the stress.

There's a very basic view in that regard from the energy medicine perspective Joyia - that illness is something we develop as a result of the beliefs, perceptions or whatever that we have convinced the deeper mind to adopt.

That while there are external factors that can leave us more prone to illness, that in the end our natural state is health. That we hypnotise ourselves into illness.

By that measure the more focused we become on the attachment of names and seemingly precise technical descriptions to possible conditions (the more energy we put into the topic), the more like we are to suggest illness to ourselves in a manner which may result in the deeper mind acting on it.

It's a catch 22 perhaps, or at least the focus on illness that is characteristic of western medicine often leads to one. We can help ourselves/make it easier on the body by avoiding many of the external negatives mentioned, but there's equally the risk if we overdo it of the above happening.

By this argument those doctors that get results do so not so much because they cure anything, but because some combination of their suggestion and our belief in them (and in absence of sufficient belief in our own healing abilities) bounces the us into a health inducing mindset.


Yes. A friend of ours had thyroid cancer and Chernobyl was suggested as the cause. She lives on a farm in North Wales where the radiation dose was higher, apparently.

My daughter had her thyroid removed with cancer a few years back. She is 43 and was living in Birmingham when the cloud from Chernobyl went over. I had recently moved to Cornwall and was spared. The following day the winds blew the radiation down over the Balkans and here in Crete the amount of thyroid illness is frightening - in the young and old. They all refer to Chernobyl....and of course what goes in the water locally from NATO submarines .....

20 years later the sheep from North Wales were still being tested before entering the food chain. Can't remember information going out for humans though.

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