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Need a good reason to take extra care of your thyroid? Here’s a good one…
If something goes wrong — surgery is risky. But if you absolutely must have your thyroid removed, there is one very important thing you must ask your surgeon…
And that’s how many thyroidectomies he’s performed in a year’s time.
The best answer: The more, the better.
And here’s why…
Thyroidectomies and complications
Thyroidectomy is one of the most common operations Americans have. Reasons for the surgery vary from cancer to an over-active thyroid to an enlarged thyroid — but 51 percent of surgeons who perform this surgery only do one per year.
That lack of experience doesn’t add up to anything good for you.
“This is a very technical operation, and patients should feel empowered to ask their surgeons how many procedures they do each year, on average,” said Julie A. Sosa, M.D., chief of endocrine surgery at Duke.
“Surgeons have an ethical responsibility to report their case numbers. While this is not a guarantee of a positive outcome, choosing a more experienced surgeon certainly can improve the odds that the patient will do well.”
Dr. Sosa was the lead author of a study that evaluated data from 16,954 patients who had thyroidectomies between 1998 and 2009 and were enrolled in a national database from the Health Care Utilization Project.
In analyzing the case volumes of 4,627 surgeons, she and fellow researchers found an association between the number of procedures surgeons performed each year and rates of complications. Notably, patients of surgeons who performed fewer than 25 thyroidectomies a year were 1.5 times more likely to experience complications.
“Thyroid nodules, which can give rise to thyroid cancer, are a growing health issue, partly because we have better imaging and are able to discover them more easily. As many as 68 percent of healthy adults have thyroid nodules, and this, in part, has significantly increased the number of biopsies and surgeries performed in the U.S.” says Sosa.
“Surgeon volume is one factor doctors and patients should consider as we talk about value-based care — helping patients get appropriate care at an optimized cost and with fewer complications,” she adds.
Boost your thyroid health
But let’s hope you don’t have to have surgery. One thing you can do is eat the foods and take the supplements that will boost your thyroid health.
Supplements that support the thyroid include:
- Iodine — Provides the fuel your body needs to make your thyroid hormones
- Zinc — Helps convert T4 to the active thyroid hormone T3
- Selenium — Along with zinc, is critical to the conversion to T3
- Tyrosine — Partners with iodine to create T4 and T3 hormones
Certain foods can as well:
- Seaweed, including kelp, nori, and wakame, are naturally rich in iodine.
- Salted nuts, like Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are excellent sources of selenium.
- Fish, like salmon, tuna, trout, cod, sea bass and halibut are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and selenium — both of which decrease inflammation. Here’s a great list of fish and their omega-3 content.
- Dairy products including yogurt, ice cream and milk contain iodine. Enjoy the occasional treat!
- Eggs contain healthy amounts of selenium and iodine. But be sure to eat the whole egg, as most of the nutrients are concentrated in the yolk.
Avoid goitrogenic foods that can cause you problems, like cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, Chinese cabbage, kale, spinach, rapeseed, common radish, horseradish, rutabaga, wasabi, capers, mustard oil, papaya, watercress, and other less-known plants.
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