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Why is the Thyroid Gland Sensitive to Radiation

By January 10, 2022October 24th, 2023No Comments

The connection between radiation and thyroid damage has been extensively researched and documented. Since the thyroid is very sensitive to radiation, it has a higher risk of developing cancer. People working in the medical, veterinary, defense, or nuclear industries should take extra precautions in particular regarding thyroid protection from radiation, as exposure to scatter radiation is more frequent.

It is imperative to protect the thyroid from any potential exposure to radiation. Barrier Technologies is an expert in providing innovative gear precisely designed to keep the thyroid safe from scatter radiation. Wearing the correct gear will prevent thyroid problems after radiation exposure.

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid regulates many essential bodily functions, such as metabolism, blood pressure, cholesterol, body temperature, and the menstrual cycle, by releasing hormones. It is located in the anterior of the neck in front of the trachea. Lymph nodes connect to the thyroid gland, which is shaped like a butterfly.

Some common signs there may be a problem with the thyroid include:

  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Muscle ache


Having a blood test is the only way to determine if the thyroid gland is operating normally. Thyroid problems after radiation exposure, like cancer, can be caught early if properly tested.

Sensitivity of the Thyroid Gland to Radiation

Iodine in the bloodstream is absorbed by the thyroid. Since the thyroid cannot differentiate between normal iodine, also called stable iodine, and radioactive iodine, it will absorb both. This makes the thyroid a hotspot for radiation absorption. In addition to people working in professions with regular exposure, children and teenagers are at higher risk of being affected by radiation because of the active nature of their hormones.

Radioactive iodine can also cause autoimmune reactions. Autoimmune reactions occur when the body cannot tell the difference between foreign cellular bodies and its own cells. This results in the body attacking itself and increasing risk of cancer. Development of both benign and malignant tumors have been linked to thyroid radiation exposure as well.

Factors Developing Radiation-Related Thyroid Cancer

Several factors impact the chances of developing thyroid problems after radiation exposure. The best way to guarantee the lowest chance of developing thyroid-related issues is to wear protective clothing, such as a thyroid shield collar. However, exposure alone does not determine the trajectory of thyroid health.

Some factors related to developing radiation-related thyroid cancer include:

  • Age and latency
  • Dose
  • Personal and familial susceptibility
  • Iodine status
  • Other thyroid pathologies


Lipids as Regulators of Radiation-Induced Cancer

Lipids are molecular building blocks for many compounds found within the body; oils, fats, and hormones. As hormones consist of lipids, the nature of lipids’ interaction with radiation is relevant to understanding thyroid sensitivity.

When the body intakes more lipids, it is more prone to developing cancer because lipids contribute to tumor formation and the growth of cancerous cells. Lipids can be damaged by both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. The thyroid should always be protected no matter the type of exposure because radiation can be classified as either ionizing or non-ionizing.

Who Is At Risk for Thyroid Problems?

As expected, those over 60 or under 25 years of age, familial history, or are immunocompromised are at risk for thyroid problems. People with careers that regularly expose them to radiation also face a high level of risk for thyroid problems; veterinarians, X-ray technicians, or nuclear engineers are all examples of people who should take extra precaution.

Besides wearing a thyroid collar, it is important to protect the body as widely as possible. This is due to radiation fields一 when radiation is scattered, the potential field of impact becomes much more expansive.

Some areas of the body that may be exposed during various medical treatments or through daily workplace responsibilities, thereby impacting the thyroid, are:

  • Neck. Whether by accident or for medical treatment, radiation to the neck can result in cancer or hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. This also applies to the nose, mouth, or throat.
  • Craniospinal. Head, brain, or spine exposure poses the same risks as neck exposure.
  • Chest. Radiation for breast or lung cancer, for example, can simultaneously expose the thyroid.
  • Total body. Total body irradiation (TBI) is a type of radiotherapy used in medical treatments; however, it gives off radiative waves that can impact the thyroid.


Exposure of the Thyroid Gland to Radiation

As mentioned above, the absorption of iodine by the thyroid is the crux of how cancer and other medical problems can arise in the gland. Conventional x-rays, including dental, are a common way the average person is exposed to radiation. Thyroid radiation exposure should be taken seriously, and can be preemptively considered.

While cancer risk from CT scans are low, the thyroid is more sensitive than other organs and areas of the body. Research shows that CT scans do expose the thyroid and with repeated scans, the chance of cancer increases.

Protect the Thyroid Against Exposure to Radiation

A popular strategy to combat the negative effects of radiation is the usage of potassium iodide (KI). Potassium iodide blocks the thyroid’s uptake of radioactive iodine. This is extremely beneficial. However, it only blocks radioactive iodine, and the thyroid is affected by both radioactive and stable iodine.

Therefore, it is best to prevent radiation from affecting the body at all. This is achieved by wearing protective gear. Xray lead aprons, protective glasses, gloves, and thyroid collars are all essential parts of complete protection. Radiation protection products are manufactured using elements with extremely high densities and this makes it nearly impossible for the radiative beams to penetrate through to the body.

Barrier Technologies: Quality Radiation Protection Provider

A leader in the industry, Barrier Technologies knows protecting people means only making the highest quality of products, especially thyroid collars. Thanks to an innovative and friendly team, lead times are much shorter and stellar customer service is always present. We have also developed a brand-new, more efficient magnetic closure system.

Not only can Barrier Technologies guarantee flexible, lightweight, and stylish protective products, but customization options are available. Call today for more details!