Eat Your Vegetables
Maybe your mother and grandmother were right when they told you, “Eat your vegetables.” A new study (Cancer Causes Control. 2009. 20:75-86) pointed out that among dietary factors, vegetables were the only food group shown to have a favorable effect on thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer encompasses approximately 1% of all malignancies diagnosed worldwide. There were approximately 140,000 cases and 35,000 deaths worldwide occurring in 2002.[i] Thyroid cancer has been increasing in the U.S. at near-pandemic rates over the last 20 years. Fortunately, most people with thyroid cancer survive with appropriate treatment.
The authors of this study looked at 42 original research papers that studied the relationship between thyroid cancer and dietary factors. The scientists compared two groups of vegetables—cruciferous and non-cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout, broccoli and bok choy. These vegetables contain enzymes which can inhibit thyroid function. I have found people eating a raw food diet who consume large amounts of cruciferous vegetables usually have thyroid abnormalities. However, small amounts of these items eaten as part of a healthy diet usually do not interfere with thyroid function.
The authors found that a diet that contains the largest amount of vegetables (non-cruciferous) as compared to a diet with the smallest amount of vegetables had a 20% lower risk (relative risk) of thyroid cancer. Those that ate cruciferous vegetables did not have a significant decline in thyroid cancer rate.
Why would vegetables lower your risk for getting thyroid cancer? Vegetables contain many antioxidants and flavinoids which are known to inhibit cancer cells.
What other things can you do to prevent thyroid cancer? Ensure that you have adequate iodine levels and avoid exposure to ionizing radiation. For more information on thyroid cancer, I refer the reader to my books, Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 4th Edition, and Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, 2nd Edition.