Thyroid Dysfunction And Environmental Chemicals

A recent study (Environmental Health Perspec, June 2000;108 (Suppl 3): 433-438) reveals that certain common environmental chemicals can alter thyroid function by acting directly on the thyroid or by affecting centers in the brain that regulate thyroid function. These chemicals, known as PCBs and dioxins, are widespread in today’s environment. This may explain why low thyroid function and many related disorders, including depression and weight gain, have become so common.

A far more disturbing finding of the study is that, in animal models, these chemicals impaired brain development in early life. In humans, adequate thyroid function is essential for brain development starting several months before delivery through the first two years after birth. Based on this information, thyroid deficiencies could be a contributory factor in today’s epidemic of neurological disorders in children such as ADD and ADHD.

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