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How Environmental Toxins Affect The Thyroid

Holtorf Medical Group

How Environmental Toxins Affect The Thyroid:

It is now well-documented the ways in which diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors can impact the health of your thyroid. Environmental toxins are another significant contributor that are underrepresented in the discussion of thyroid health.

Why do toxins affect the thyroid?

We live in an endocrine-disrupting society that negatively impacts the body in a variety of ways. Learn about how environmental toxins impact your health here. In regards to the thyroid specifically, toxin exposure can contribute to the development of an autoimmune thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In other words, excessive toxin exposure can lead to thyroid antibodies attacking the thyroid, resulting in suboptimal function and a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, and more.

What toxins play a role in harming the thyroid?

Exposure to virtually any toxin (especially regularly) is likely to compromise the health of your thyroid. Below we consider specifically the potential effects of heavy metals and common household toxins on the thyroid:

Heavy Metals Unfortunately, heavy metals are found in a variety of everyday products including:

  • Lipstick
  • Cheap jewelry
  • Electrical components
  • Certain computers
  • Plastics
  • Textiles

Aluminum: Commonly found in toiletries like deodorant, over-the-counter medications, food additives, cookware, and more aluminum oxidizes the thyroid, inhibits iodide uptake, limits thyroid hormone production, and can mislead the immune system to attack the thyroid, as seen in autoimmune disease.

Cadmium: This heavy metal is present in batteries, pigments, plastics, sewage, and phosphate-based fertilizers. This heavy metal can trigger thyroid enlargement, reduce thyroglobulin secretion, and can induce thyroid cancer.

Lead: Commonly known for its toxicity, lead remains high in today's environment due to its use in the paint used in old housing, some metal jewelry, and some children’s toys. Lead exposure in work environments alone has been linked to reduced thyroid function. Mercury: Still present in seafood and pollution produced by coal-burning power plants, mercury lowers iodide uptake in the thyroid and prevents thyroid hormone production.

Arsenic, Selenium, Manganese, and Nickel: Lastly, these metals are linked to decreased levels of one or more thyroid hormones, according to studies.

Household Toxins:

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), more commonly referred to as flame retardants can be found in many areas of the modern-day home such as furniture, carpet padding, clothing made of synthetic materials, and the screens of electronic devices. PBDEs imitate thyroid hormone structure and block T4 from being transported in the blood.

Bisphenol A (BPA), an ingredient used to make plastic for water bottles, children’s toys, and food storage containers, imitate the structures of other hormones found naturally in the body and disrupt the entire endocrine system along with the thyroid. BPA can change the structure of the thyroid gland and inhibits T3 from binding to its receptors.

Phthalates are known as “plasticizers” as they are substances that are added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, and longevity. They have been incorporated into a wide range of products including face masks, vinyl flooring, wallcovering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, and more.

Because phthalates are endocrine disruptors, they can also greatly impact women’s health. Phthalates can bind to hormonal receptors and interfere with the function of reproductive hormones such as estrogen. Consequently, higher levels of phthalates have been associated with irregularities in menstruation, ovulation dysfunction, and an increased risk of endometriosis.

In regards to the thyroid specifically, research shows that common exposure to phthalates in children can lead to lower levels of thyroid activity (this is thought to be due to their endocrine-disrupting qualities).

Protecting Your Thyroid

With approximately 20 million Americans suffering from some form of a thyroid disorder and millions who have yet to be diagnosed (or misdiagnosed with another condition) it is important to understand the ways in which we can negatively impact our thyroid health. When it comes to toxins, detoxing is essential and one of the best ways to improve your overall health. Below are some of our resources to support your detoxing pathways:

6 Quick & Easy Detox Practices Detoxing: The Benefits & What to Consider

Ingredients to Add to Your Detox Smoothie

If your thyroid health has been compromised from environmental toxins and you feel you are not getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today. We will help get to the root cause of your symptoms and improve your quality of life.


Holtorf Medical GroupThe Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.


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