What are the risk factors for thyroid tumors?Noncancerous thyroid nodules are quite common, especially in women. In fact, as many as 30 percent of adult women have thyroid nodules large enough to be detected. One identified risk factor is iodine deficiency, but this is not a major concern in the United States, as iodine is commonly added to table salt and other foods. People with enlarged thyroids are more likely to have thyroid nodules.
Anyone can get thyroid cancer, but some factors that can increase your risk include:
Age. Nearly 70 percent of thyroid cancers are diagnosed between the ages 20 to 55. (Anaplastic thyroid cancer is more common in those aged 60 and older.)
Gender. Women are three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer.
Tobacco use. Smoking or using tobacco can increase your risk of thyroid cancer and most other cancers.
Family history. If thyroid cancer runs in your family, you have an increased risk.
Iodine or radiation exposure. Too much iodine or radiation exposure increases your risk of thyroid cancer.
Moderate to heavy alcohol use. Heavy drinking is usually defined as more than 14 drinks per week for men or more than seven for women.
What can you do to prevent thyroid tumors?
You may not be able to prevent thyroid nodules, and there is no sure way to prevent thyroid cancer. But you can take steps to reduce your cancer risk:
- Quit using tobacco. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use contribute to many health problems, including most cancers. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor.
- Limit alcohol use. Quit drinking, or have no more than a drink or two each day.
- Avoid exposure to radiation. Use a respirator or face mask if you must be exposed to airborne sources.
- Moderate your iodine intake. Your doctor can help you find ways to ensure proper levels of iodine in your diet.