Diet Not Linked With Thyroid Cancer

Minority Women Benefit Most From Healthy Diet
Minority Women Benefit Most From Healthy Diet
New results show no significant associations between dietary habits and thyroid cancer risk.

Risk for developing thyroid cancer does not appear to be associated with dietary factors, according to results from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.

“Aside from alcohol consumption, the analysis showed no significant association between BMI, dietary patterns, or the consumption of specific foods, nutrients, or vitamins and the development of thyroid cancer,” study investigator Michael C. Singer, MD, FACS, director of the Division of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery Department of Otolaryngology in the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said in an email interview with Endocrinology Advisor.

The research was presented at the 15th International Thyroid Congress and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ITC/ATA).

Dr Singer noted that risk factors for thyroid cancer, such as family history and a history of exposure to ionizing radiation, are well known, but the impact of lifestyle factors in the development of the disease is less clear.

He and colleagues evaluated data from 61 223 participants in the PLCO trial collected between November 1993 and December 2009. The PLCO trial was designed as a randomized, controlled trial to reduce mortality through screening exams for lung, prostate, ovarian, and colorectal cancer, and the researchers recorded whether any participants developed thyroid cancer during the course of the trial.

Lifestyle data were also collected from participants, with information on dietary patterns and micronutrient, isoflavone, and vitamin consumption, as well as whether participants consumed soy-rich or iodine-rich foods.

There were 30 812 men and 30 411 women enrolled in the trial, and participants were aged 50 years or older. Of these participants, 30 men and 60 women were diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Dr Singer and colleagues found that dietary habits were not significantly associated with an increased risk for developing thyroid cancer.

Specifically, they examined adherence to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan, the USDA Food Guide, and the Mediterranean diet among participants. The researchers found that no increased risk for developing thyroid cancer, whether or not participants adhered to these diet plans.

However, the researchers noted some exceptions to their findings. 

“Interestingly, greater alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of thyroid cancer development,” Dr Singer said in an interview with Endocrinology Advisor.

Their results also showed that less consumption of isoflavone formononetin (0.014 mg/day vs 0.011 mg/day) was associated with thyroid cancer development (P=.004).


  1. Singer M. Poster 640. Diet and the Risk of Thyroid Cancer: Results from a Large, Prospective Cohort. Presented at: 15th International Thyroid Congress and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ITC/ATA); Oct. 18-23, 2015; Lake Buena Vista, Florida.