Is Your Job Putting Your Thyroid at Risk?by Carissa Andrews - May 27th, 2020
You wouldn’t think it, but your thyroid plays a large role in many functions of your body. Most people know that this butterfly-shaped organ releases hormones to control your metabolism, but they also regulate other vital functions like breathing and overall voice quality. Whether you’re a singer, work in a call center, or just love to talk on the phone, your thyroid is needed to help you do your job. Yet for many, taking care of it can be difficult when the job you love could also be putting your thyroid in danger.
Top 8 Occupations that Pose a Risk
Most people will take a career based on what their future finances will look like, but it’s also important to consider how it might affect you in the long run, and in specific, regarding your health. Some vocations, you may imagine, produce a higher risk of developing cancers, such as thyroid cancer. However, you might be surprised to find out that some you’d think of as having a low risk do contain factors that will harm your thyroid in unexpected ways.
Here are a few occupations that put you at a higher risk with your thyroid and their common causes.
• Mechanics - For mechanics, it’s common to see gas or petrol as being a large hazard for vehicle repairs, but asbestos, a highly known cancer-causing agent, is also prominent in some automotive repairs.
• Farmers - Due to working around chemicals, radon, fertilizer, and pesticides, farmers are consistently exposed to cancer-causing agents. When this happens, the chemicals aren’t discriminatory. If a build-up causes cells to mutate in your body, it can be anywhere from your skin to even your thyroid.
• Retailer Workers - Although most likely not working in close proximity to any form of chemicals, retail workers are often put under a lot of stress. Weird hours, long shifts, and exposure to a lot of people can put just about anyone in a state of anxiety. When your stress levels are high, you’re more at risk for developing cancer.
• Hair Stylists - While just being in proximity with different people can cause health concerns, as we now well know thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, hair stylists get a double whammy. They’re in constant contact with people and they’re surrounded by harsh chemicals all day long. One of the biggest health concerns for stylists is their consistent exposure to harsh chemicals from hair dye and permanents.
• Radiology Technicians – While a radiologist helps find serious diseases for the population, or makes sure a baby is doing well, being in close proximity to X-rays cab wreak havoc on the thyroid. In fact, it can increase their chance of developing thyroid cancer.
• Manufacturing and Factories – Factory workers have some cause for concern in regard to their thyroid, as well. Most especially when they are around plastics, or have exposure to the plastic dust, cadmium, and other toxic fumes from the creation or recycling of plastic can cause cancer.
• Pilots - Having exposure to the sun from traveling to tropical locations may sound like the most likely cause for cancers. However, a pilot’s chances are increased because of the higher elevations and exposure to stronger UV rays, which can lead to thyroid problems for pilots and their crew.
• Healthcare Workers – With the long hours and direct contact with many sick people, healthcare workers are in a higher risk category, as well. Their area of specialty can obviously be higher or lower, depending on who they treat and what chemicals or machinery (such as CAT Scans or X-rays) they are in constant contact with.
In essence, any job that involves chemicals in some form are all considered to have a higher risk for developing cancer. But in all honesty, that’s not all. Even if your job isn’t listed above, you might want to keep reading.
Long Hours & Hypothyroidism
Along with the above occupations, you can also do harm to your thyroid in other ways. In fact, a recent study found that more hours you worked in a day or in a week could be correlated to a higher likelihood of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland can’t make enough hormones, which leads to fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and dry skin. It can also cause additional problems for women by creating heavy menstrual bleeding or even irregular periods. You can have your doctor check to make sure your thyroid is operating correctly by having blood work done to measure TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) levels.
Many of the occupations from the list above are known for their long hours and workweek, as well as being highly stressful. If you’re seeing any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and work in a position from this list, it might be time to have a chat with your doctor to get tested.
Thyroid Cancer and Dysfunction on the Rise
Within the last 30 years, thyroid cancer has tripled in many countries. It’s important to note that not all of this can be linked back to the individual’s occupation. Other incidents that can lead to thyroid dysfunction, or are closely attributed to it, include being close to radiation, having psoriasis, vitamin D deficiency, or if you were treated with amiodarone as a young adult.
With an increase in use of disinfectants the last few months, you’ll want to be careful with how much exposure you give yourself. The chemicals within deodorizers, sanitizers, and disinfectants for cleaning can link workers, and even homeowners who are working from home, to thyroid cancer. While it’s good to be safe during the COVID-19 quarantine by cleaning surfaces and sanitizing frequently used locations, be sure to take proper precautions. Make sure you’re not harming yourself when trying to keep your area clean.
We might be able to mitigate some of our risk of thyroid issues by switching occupations or seeking a doctor’s advice, there are a few risk factors that we may not be able to change. Women, a family history, and hereditary conditions can all attribute to thyroid dysfunction.
What happens when your thyroid function is decreased due to a job or other outside situation? The good news is that there’s treatment available. Synthroid is a prescription medication that can be taken to help level out your body’s hormone levels and increase your energy.
Synthroid is a man-made thyroid hormone used to treat hypothyroidism. Taken orally once a day, at the same time every day, can help replace hormones that would usually be created by your thyroid. There are a few restrictions with the use of Synthroid, some of which include your dietary needs. All of this should be talked about with your doctor if you believe Synthroid is right for you.
New information is constantly being gained about thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and care. So, while it might seem like jumping from one high-risk occupation to a different job is the smartest move, it’s best to consider all the options. If swapping from a beloved job as a hair stylist means working longer, more stressful hours, is the swap really worth it? Only you can decide. June is Thyroid Awareness Month and it’s here to help each of us understand this organ a little better, maybe even in a new light, so we can live our lives a little healthier.