Supplementary memorandum submitted by
HYPOTHYROIDISM AND CANCER
As a member of BREAST UK I am a patient advocate.
I am a retired biomedical scientist with personal experience of
both breast cancer and hypothyroidism. Looking at the research
into both diseases, it soon becomes evident that there is a link
between all cancers and hypothyroidism.
In fact, if hypothyroidism were taken seriously,
not only would much cancer be PREVENTED and outcomes in treatment
be improved, but other ailments such as ME and heart disease would
also benefit. This would save the NHS a great deal of money in
a relatively short time.
The following is an overview of some of the
literature illustrating how low thyroid is implicated in cancer,
and how equivocal blood test results have let patients down and
made some existing research unclear.
The purpose of this memorandum is to bring to
your attention the link between hypothyroidism and cancer with
the hope that more research will follow, leading to improved patient
BRODA O BARNES
1.1 This is an old book but it tells how
people suffer for years without being properly diagnosed and are
then treated with synthetic hormone that doesn't always work.
The sin is that it is all still relevant today. His theories are
backed with research. He realised that hypothyroidism is associated
with atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.(Ref:1)
YOUR THYROID BY THE
BRODA O BARNES
M.D. RESEARCH FOUNDATION
1.2 Every cell in the body needs thyroid
hormone, therefore, every cell will feel the effects of deficiency.
Which systems develop symptoms first depends on individual strengths
and weaknesses.' This sheet explains how the thyroid controls
metabolismthe energy needed in every cell to function properly.
With lower body temperatures all the enzymes work more sluggishly.
2. LOW RESISTANCE
2.1 Broda Barnes's theory is that, whereas
low thyroid people would have died from infections, especially
TB, with the introduction of antibiotics they were now surviving
and reproducing. Hypothyroidism runs in families.
2.2 Richard M Alford MD says that the cause
is the failure to treat maternal hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
The foetus supplements the maternal deficiency from about the
fifth month and the child is born deficient. Like Broda Barnes
he attributes many diseases and problems to hypothyroidism. "Those
with very poor metabolic function will die very young on average
in spite of their genes. The optimal thriving condition in an
euthyroid individual increases their capability to suppress the
effects of their abnormal genes". (Ref: 3)
2.3 Environmental hormone disrupters, find
their way into our bodiesmimic the shape of the real hormone
and block the receptor site.(Ref: 4)
"In many instances, specific hormones and
the biological processes they control are chemically identical
in animals and humans," and "this means that a chemical
which affects the same component of the endocrine system of an
insect can be expected to similarly affect a mammal".
2.4 The EU Commission is gathering evidence
to identify a list of 100 potential endocrine disrupting substances.
Report due in April 2000. Particular reference to herbal oestrogens,
phthalates used in plastics and pesticides.
2.5 Dr Durrant-Peatfield lists a number
of chemical agents that interfere with the manufacture of thyroid
hormone. Chemicals in paints & wood preservatives, plastics,
some vegetables, cigarette smoke, caffeine, aspirin and fluorides
etc. (Fluoride is added to some water supplies!)(Ref: 5)
2.6 Selenium is a dietary supplement recommended
for cancer prevention. Areas of naturally high selenium intake,
like Japan, have lower breast cancer mortality. Selenium is a
component of the enzyme that is needed to convert Thyroxine T4
into T3 which can then be used by individual cells in the body.(Ref:
3. MANY STUDIES
3.1 Study by the Institutes of Endocrinology
and Pathology, University of Pisa, Italy. This study examined
breast cancer patients, before starting any therapies, all from
an iodine sufficient area. Thyroid disease was present in 46 per
cent of breast cancer patients and in 14 per cent of controls.
(This was using the less sensitive lab tests!)(Ref: 7)
3.2 An article in the Lancet in 1974(Ref:
This study showed that a large number of patients
with breast cancer have sub-optimal level of thyroid activity
which is not secondary to pituitary or hypothalamic disease. Areas
where endemic goitre is uncommon have a low breast cancer mortality
and it is increased in areas where it is common. Low thyroid in
breast cancer has an adverse effect of prognosis, and thyroidectomy
performed on patients with apparently stable breast cancer can
cause sudden dissemination of the disease. The above report suggests
a causal relationship between thyroid dysfunction and breast cancer.
3.3 Another article in the Lancet in
Hypothesis based on previous experimental evidence
that a sub-optimal level of circulating thyroid hormones may abnormally
sensitise mammary epithelial cells to prolactin stimulation, leading
to dysplasia and eventual neoplasia. It is also possible that
with sub-optimal levels of thyroid hormones, prolactin initiates
malignant transformation in cells unprimed for mammotrophic stimulation,
probably in the presence of optimal concentrations of growth hormone
and ovarian steroids. Plasma prolactin levels in patients with
early or advanced breast cancer are normal but TSH (Thyroid Stimulating
Hormone) is significantly raised.
4.1 A study in Japan found that the patients
whose disease progressed, showed significantly lower T3 levels
and higher TSH, and their tumours were resistant to subsequent
therapies. Prolactin levels were higher in the "progressive
disease" and "no change" groups compared to "partial
response" group.(Ref: 13).
5.1 A study showing concerns about radiogenic
effects of irradiation outside the treated area. It measured the
scattered dose to contra-lateral breast, thyroid and gonads.(Ref:
5.2 Breast cancer patients near Chernobyl,
demonstrated significant disturbances in function of hypophyseal-thyroid
and hypophyseal-adrenal axes. These may effect prolactin secretion,
which worsens the prognosis.(Ref: 11).
5.3 Hypothyroidism & Tamoxifen
Symptoms are the same as the side effects attributed
to Tamoxifen, and cause many people to stop using Tamoxifen. It
would be logical to screen all breast cancer patients for hypothyroidism
as part of their adjuvant therapy. Perhaps more patients would
then stay on the regime or would not suffer these distressing
symptoms. Tamoxifen also influences thyroid hormone levels by
modulating plasma TBG (thyroid binding globulin) & by interfering
with hormone synthesis or secretion in the thyroid gland.(Ref:
5.4 Low basal temperatures mean that all
the hormones are not working at optimal temperature. This must
affect the blocking reaction of tamoxifen and oestrogen, rendering
it less effective.
6. THYROID FUNCTION
Dealing with interpretation difficulties.(Ref:
6.1 Blood tested by the laboratory can only
give a snapshot in time. It varies in response to cold or illness.
Levels are greater in the early morning and lower in the evening.
There is also a day to day cyclical variation.
6.2 The tests:
Total T4measures circulating
thyroxine. Does not show how utilised in the body.
T3 uptakeis only an estimate
of sites not taken up by T4 and has only a 50-60 per cent sensitivity
for hypothyroid states.
TSH(Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
measures pituitary response to circulating T3 & T4. A sensitive
TSH test is available. There is diurnal variation.
Free T4a better assessment
of thyrometabolic rate than total T4.
Total T3the active form of
the hormone. More useful to indicate hyperthyroidism as the test
is more accurate at the higher levels.
6.3 Thyroid hormone available in the blood
stream may not reach proper equilibrium with the extra-cellular
fluid and cells. The body will attempt to maintain blood levels
within certain ranges no matter what is occurring at the cellular
level. Physicians should bear in mind the variables in the time
that the sample is taken. Laboratory error and different testing
methods add further variations.
6.4 Reference ranges are determined from
a wide population. Patients who are marginally ill may fall within
the range and so are missed. Lab tests should not be used to make
a diagnosis, but to substantiate clinical signs and symptoms.
The patients optimal range should be found rather than basing
on population studies. Other medications may affect some patients
in regulating thyroid supplementation.
6.5 Basal Body Temperatureas advocated
by Broda Barnes MD.(Ref: 1, 2, 5, 14)
A more sensitive indicator of hypothyroidism
than blood testing. It gives an indication of what is occurring
during optimal thyroid output rather than a random blood draw.
It gives a better indication of what is occurring at the cellular
level by measuring the body's metabolic response.
1. Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness.
By Broda O Barnes MD and Lawrence Galton. ISBN 0-690-01029-X www.amazon.comalso
2. Your Thyroid. Broda O Barnes M.D. Research
Foundation Inc. www.my4tune.u-net.com/hypo.html
3. Richard M Alford MDLow Metabolism
or Hypothyroidism. www.valint.net/php/rmalford/
4. Environmental Estrogens. The Endocrine
System & Endocrine Disruptor News. How Endocrine Disrupters
5. ArticleSuggestions for an approach
to the management of thyroid deficiency. Dr Durrant-Peatfield.
6. ArticleRichard A Passwater, Ph.D.
New discoveries expand our knowledge about selinium's importance.
7. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology
& Metabolism. Vol 81, No. 3, pp. 990-994 March 1996. Study
by the Institutes of Endocrinology and Pathology, University of
8. The Lancet 11 May 1974. Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Thyroid
axis in Breast Cancer. I Mittra & J L Hayward, Imperial Cancer
Research Fund Breast Cancer Unit. Guy's Hospital, London.
9. The Lancet 11 May 1974. Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Prolactin
axis in Breast Cancer. I Mittra, J L Hayward, Imperial Cancer
Research Fund Breast Cancer Unit, Guy's Hospital & A S McNeilly,
St Bartholomew's Hospital, London SE1 9RT
10. ArticleAn in-vivo dosimetric
study of the scattered radiation during the treatment of breast
carcinoma. Radiologia Medica 91(1-2):122-5, 1996 Jan-Feb.
11. ArticleThe functional status
of the hypophyseal-thyroid and hypophyseal-adrenal systems in
breast cancer patients taking into account their exposure to the
factors of the accident at the Chernobyl Atomic Electric Power
Station. Likarska Sprava. (5-6); 29-31, 1995 May-June.
12. ArticleThyroid function in post
menopausal breast cancer patients treated with Tamoxifen. Scandinavian
Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation. 58(2):103-7
13. Relationship between thyroid-pituitary
function and response to therapy in patients with recurrent breast
cancer. 1996 July-August, Gunma University School of Medicine,
14. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. Thyroid
Function Testing: Dealing with Interpretation Difficulties. www.healthy.net/hwlibraryjournals/naturopathic/vol1no1/thyroid.htm