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Denise Richards Fans Spot Her Enlarged Thyroid

 

Denise Richards took to social media to thank fans for spotting her enlarged thyroid on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reunion show.

On Aug. 5, the star posted on Instagram, “It’s amazing to me in a short time eliminating gluten from my diet how much my thyroid has changed. A few of you pointed out after the #RHOBH reunion that my thyroid was enlarged. You were right, it was something I ignored until pointed out. I had no idea how much our diet really can affect our body and for me how toxic gluten really is … I thank all of you who sent me messages. #selfcare”

She is the second TV personality to have a similar experience in the past few months. On April 2, journalist Deborah Norville had surgery to remove most of her thyroid.

Autoimmune diseases, like Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, are the most common causes of an enlarged thyroid. It also can occur when a person is receiving other medical treatments for conditions like cancer.

Richards mentioned gluten in the Instagram post, but there is little medical evidence suggesting omitting gluten will help with an enlarged thyroid.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is in the front part of the neck, below the thyroid cartilage (your Adam’s apple). The thyroid hormone controls your body’s metabolism in many ways, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. In most people, the thyroid cannot be seen or felt. It is shaped like a butterfly, with 2 lobes – right lobe and left lobe – joined by a narrow piece of the gland called the isthmus.

The thyroid gland has two main types of cells:

Follicular cells use iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones, which help regulate a person’s metabolism.

Having too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat, trouble sleeping, nervousness, hunger, weight loss, and a feeling of being too warm. Having too little hormone (hypothyroidism) causes a person to slow down, feel tired, and gain weight.

The amount of thyroid hormone released by the thyroid is regulated by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, which makes a substance called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

C cells (also called parafollicular cells) make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control how the body uses calcium.

Other, less common cells in the thyroid gland include immune system cells (lymphocytes) and supportive (stromal) cells. [1]

Thyroid cancer symptoms

People can develop thyroid nodules at any age, but they occur most commonly in older adults. Fewer than 1 in 10 adults have thyroid nodules that can be felt by a doctor.

Thyroid cancer doesn’t always have symptoms, so it can be hard to detect and diagnose. In fact, some of the possible symptoms aren’t actually caused by thyroid cancer itself. Instead, these symptoms can be caused by a thyroid nodule – and thyroid nodules aren’t necessarily cancerous. [2]

Most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer usually find out first that they have a thyroid nodule. These common symptoms are associated with thyroid nodules of all types, not just cancerous nodules.

  • Lump in the neck
  • Swollen lymph node
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Neck pain
  • Throat pain

Since most thyroid cancers develop in thyroid nodules, it’s essential to be aware of these symptoms and signs that may point to thyroid cancer. Keep in mind, however, that the majority of thyroid nodules are not cancerous, and most adults will have a thyroid nodule (or even a few of them).

Through further testing, you can be diagnosed with a type of thyroid cancer. There are four main types of thyroid cancer:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Follicular thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer

Also, Thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcomas are rare types of cancer.

The American Cancer Society notes most nodules are cysts filled with fluid or with a stored form of thyroid hormone called colloid. Solid nodules have little fluid or colloid and are more likely to be cancerous. Still, most solid nodules are not cancer.

Thyroid cancer treatment and aftercare

Most cancers are treated with removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy). Small tumors that have not spread outside the thyroid gland may be treated by removing the side of the thyroid containing the tumor (lobectomy). If lymph nodes are enlarged or show signs of cancer spread, they will be removed as well.

If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, examine you, and might order blood tests or imaging tests such as radioiodine scans or ultrasounds. Follow-up is needed to check for cancer recurrence or spread, as well as possible side effects of specific treatments.

Adopting healthy behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, getting regular physical activity, and staying at a healthy weight is essential. We know that these types of changes can have positive effects on your health that can extend beyond your risk of cancer.

So far, no dietary supplements (including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products) have been shown to clearly help lower the risk of thyroid cancer progressing or coming back. This doesn’t mean that no supplements will help, but it’s important to know that none have been proven to do so.

Most people do very well after treatment. Follow-up care is critical since most thyroid cancers grow slowly and can recur even 10 to 20 years after initial treatment.

 

Citations

[1] What Is Thyroid Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroid-cancer/about/what-is-thyroid-cancer.html

[2] Thyroid Cancer Symptoms. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-cancer/thyroid-cancer-symptoms