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American Thyroid Association supports World Thyroid Day, May 25, 2011



World Thyroid

Day: thyroid disorders are increasingly being recognized in our population and are especially prevalent among women and the



From the media release:

The American Thyroid Association, in cooperation with sister international thyroid societies, the European Thyroid Association (www.eurothyroid.org), the Asia & Oceania Thyroid Association (www.aothyroid.org), and the Latin American Thyroid Society (www.lats.org), recognizes the 4th Annual World Thyroid Day, May 25, 2011.

Established in 2008, World Thyroid Day highlights five major goals to:

  • Increase awareness of thyroid health,
  • Promote understanding of advances made in treating thyroid diseases,
  • Emphasize the prevalence of thyroid diseases,
  • Focus on the urgent need for education and prevention programs, and
  • Expand awareness of new treatment modalities.

The thyroid gland, butterfly-shaped and located in the middle of the lower neck, produces hormones that influence every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The thyroid hormones regulate the body's metabolism - the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen - and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

Tens of millions of people worldwide are affected by diseases of the thyroid, including thyroid cancer, thyroid under-activity and thyroid over-activity. "Thyroid disorders are increasingly being recognized in our population and are especially prevalent among women and the elderly," said Dr. Gregory Brent, president of the American Thyroid Association. "Early diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease can improve pregnancy outcomes, cognitive function, and quality of life. It is important that the public is aware of the range of thyroid disorders and that we continue to invest in research that will improve our understanding of these diseases."

"Thyroid disease with a definite need of therapy affects in the order of 10 percent of people during their life. If not treated early and sufficiently, these diseases may cause severe mental and physical disturbance. Many people have subtle thyroid abnormalities that may need evaluation and treatment. In addition, there are overall public health concerns to monitor and adjust population iodine intake to optimize levels, to prevent thyroid cancer in children in case of nuclear release events, and to understand the causes of the steady increase in the number of patients with thyroid cancer," said Dr. Peter Laurberg, president of the European Thyroid Association (ETA).

The most common thyroid disease, "hypothyroidism," is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, irregular menses and weight gain. Treatment of hypothyroidism is usually a synthetic form of thyroid hormone called "levothyroxine." Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation. Graves' disease, one type of hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder that is partly genetic.

The thyroid also has a great impact on women's health during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the thyroid gland produces up to 50 percent more thyroid hormone as compared to when a woman is not pregnant; therefore, chances of developing hypothyroidism during pregnancy are increased. The ATA recommends that women at high-risk for thyroid disease should be tested early in their pregnancy.

Thyroid cancer is the most rapidly increasing form of cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute reported 44,670 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2010. When thyroid cancer is identified and treated early, the majority of patients can be completely cured. Thyroid cancer must be distinguished from benign thyroid nodules, which are common in the population.

Dr. Leonidas Duntas, chairman of the educational board of the ETA, emphasizes that "this year's commemoration of World Thyroid Day pays special tribute to our patients around the world and to the doctors who treat them, often under very difficult circumstances. In light of the recent tragic events in Northern Japan, our compassion is increased with regard to the distress of the Japanese people."

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international individual membership organization with over 1,400 members from 43 countries around the world.

Celebrating its 88th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology and Clinical Thyroidology for Patients; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators, support of online professional, public and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease.

More information about ATA is found at www.thyroid.org.


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