Nutrition and Weight Related Issues in Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is the cancer in the thyroid gland, an endocrine organ which produces hormones that control the speed of metabolism. Read more about thyroid cancer here.

Picture of a doctor pointing at the place where there could be cancer

Research shows that certain foods have been associated with the risk of thyroid cancer, and diet also plays an important role in thyroid cancer patients. Also, thyroid cancer and its treatment usually damage the immune system of the body and the body loses the strength and energy to fight diseases and infections, therefore it is important to follow a strict healthy and nutritious diet.

What are the nutritional requirements with thyroid cancer?

The necessary food groups to include in the daily food intake are as follows:

Whole grains:

Foods with whole grains provide the necessary nutrients, fibre and protein for adequate food processing and to manage blood sugar levels and proper digestion. Gluten free grains such as brown rice, wild rice, oats, popcorn, whole wheat grain bread, pasta and cereal are good food options for people with thyroid cancer.

Fruits and vegetables:

Vegetables rich in fibre and antioxidants such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, carrots, sea vegetables, seaweed, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers etc., and fruits that contain vitamin C, beta carotene and fibre such as berries, kiwi, cherries, citrus fruits, papaya, mango, plums and red grapes are advised for thyroid patients.

Meat and seafood:

Fish containing omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, halibut and sardines promote positive brain functioning and healthy heart. Meat such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes and tofu is advised to be incorporated into to maintain a healthy immune system too.

Iodine and thyroid cancer:

Low iodine in diet is a risk factor for thyroid cancer and also patients are advised to stick to a low iodine diet during radioiodine therapy, a treatment method for thyroid cancer. The foods rich in iodine are:

  • Iodized salt
  • Cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, butter and other dairy products
  • Packaged breads and baked goods
  • Chocolate
  • The skins of potatoes
  • Seafood
  • Soy products like soybeans, lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and other types of beans
  • Eggs

Read more about radioiodine therapy for thyroid cancer here.

Nutritional considerations with thyroid cancer:

Certain diet factors are associated with low risk of developing thyroid cancer which should be followed especially if the people are in the high risk group of developing cancer. The nutritional considerations are:

  • Taking a healthy energy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding meat in excessive amounts, especially red meat
  • Favouring vegetables
  • Moderate consumption of tea seemed to have a lower risk of thyroid cancer than the low consumption group
  • Proper iodine intake

Read more about risk factors of thyroid cancer here.

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