Keep Toxins From Damaging Your Thyroid

March 15, 2010
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

bn277030Get accurate testing to protect your health.

Ready for spring cleaning? Keep in mind that ordinary house dust contains flame retardants and other toxins that can disrupt hormone health.

In women, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) has also been linked to pesticides and plasticizers in house dust, while lowering sperm concentrations in men. Overall, though, thyroid problems are more common in women.

Certain insecticides—aldrine, DDT (still found in the environment despite having been banned), and lindane—can damage women’s thyroid function—even if they are only married to men who used these toxins, recent research in the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.

Maneb/mancozeb—an antifungal used on strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruits and veggies—ups a woman’s risk for both overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underactive thyroid more than two-fold. And the cancer-causing weed killer paraquat, found on food and in water, almost doubles women’s risk for underactive thyroid—with accompanying weight gain.

Even more frightening, millions of children drink fruit juices containing a harmful chemical, antimony, that leaches from PET plastics—and can be lethal in large doses. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found antimony levels in fruit drinks and juices in plastic bottles at levels 2.5 times higher than what’s considered safe in tap water!

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

For whatever reason, women are more susceptible to thyroid imbalances than men.

I’m convinced that thyroid damage is an overlooked factor in America’s obesity epidemic—at least for women and children! While 10% of women in this country have diagnosed thyroid problems, I believe it’s much higher—at least 20% of postmenopausal women, perhaps even closer to 40% in some populations.

For example, rates of thyroid cancer are at a record high around Philadelphia. “This area has the greatest concentration of nuclear reactors in the United States,” says Joseph J. Mangano, who heads the Radiation and Public Health Project. He suspects 7 nuclear plants in a 90-mile radius—plus the fast-growing use of CT scans and other medical and dental radiation—help explain this “epidemic of thyroid cancer.”

Found in food and water contaminated by rocket fuel as well as some medicines used to treat thyroid gland disorders, perchlorate is another thyroid disrupter. Of particular concern to the developing fetus and infant whose neurological development depends on adequate iodine intake, perchlorate is a common environmental toxin today.

Get Accurate Testing
When everything from perchlorate to radiation can impact thyroid function, it’s critical to assess thyroid health accurately. New findings from the long-term Framingham Study link heart contractility with subclinical (or undiagnosed) thyroid dysfunction in women. A new Danish study also suggests that subclinical thyroid problems can impact mitochondria that provide energy at the cellular level.

Part of the reason for under-diagnosis is that physicians can’t agree on what constitutes normal thyroid levels. In addition, blood tests for circulating levels of thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4) aren’t always as accurate as Tissue Mineral Analysis (TMA).

In over 20 years working with TMA, I’ve found it a particularly reliable guide to thyroid status, especially for personalizing a supplement program for effective weight loss. When you send in a sample of hair for analysis, you also obtain levels of stored minerals, including copper and zinc that impact thyroid function. An Iodine Loading Test will assess your bioavailable iodine levels.

Safe Spring Cleaning
Try these easy ways to clean green:
• Use a damp cloth to dust, so that you don’t simply spread this toxin-laden substance around.
• Opt for bare floors and damp mop them frequently. Ventilate your home while spring cleaning.
• Throughout the year, leave your shoes at the door, instead of tracking in pesticides and other toxins in dirt.
• Choose healing essential oils and diffusers instead of commercial air fresheners, which interact with ozone to create airborne formaldehyde that’s been linked to thyroid problems in laboratory research.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Barbara Powell

    How does taking Iodora (a form of iodine) that Unikey sells for thyroid problems differ from using iodized salt or the iodine in Fat Flush vitamins? I understand the need in the test that Unikey has for thyroid function, but not the need as a supplement.

    I take synthroid, but am still tired and have a morning body temperature of 195 to 196 at most. I have consider the Adrenal supplement, but since a study years ago that showed that high level of vitamin A and beta-carotene could be harmful to smokers and ex-smokers; I have been afraid to try it since I am an ex-smoker. However, it has been a long time since I smoked so maybe I will give it a try. I would sure like to have more energy.

  2. Liz Beck

    Hi Barbara,

    Iodoral is an easy way to get enough iodine. Our diets are very low in iodine and with chlorine, floride and even bromides in our environment and food we need all the help we can get. These three minerals replace iodine in our cells which are usually already low in iodine. You would need to eat a lot of salt to get enough iodine, which new research puts at up to 50 mg. per day.

  3. Carol

    I’ve read that soy milk can throw off your thyroid. I’ve read a lot about hemp milk, but haven’t yet tried it. What’s your take on hemp milk, with respect to not only thyroid, but GLA quality and copper, and hormone balance?

    Thank you! I’ve been following much of your advice for years and am a huge fan. I tell lots of people about you and your products!


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