- Posted by jdavis on August 31, 2011
by Mayo Clinic staff
It’s often not possible to prevent thyroid cancer. But the following measures may reduce or eliminate your risk:
Preventive (prophylactic) surgery. If you’ve inherited a defective RET gene, you may choose to have your thyroid gland surgically removed, even though the gland appears to be healthy. This pre-emptive approach eliminates the risk of medullary thyroid cancer but doesn’t reduce the likelihood of adrenal or parathyroid tumors in people with MEN 2 syndrome.
Potassium iodide tablets. Heightened concerns about national security have focused attention on nuclear power plants in the United States. Current government guidelines recommend that people within 10 miles of these plants be provided with potassium iodide tablets. Taken just before or immediately after exposure to nuclear fallout, potassium iodide protects your thyroid gland from iodine 131, though not from other radioactive material. Children are most at risk from exposure to radioactive iodine, and potassium iodide is safe and effective for even very young children when taken in the proper dosage. Short-term side effects, which are more common in adults than in children, include intestinal problems, allergic reactions and minor rashes. You shouldn’t take potassium iodide if you have multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease or autoimmune thyroiditis.
A healthy diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat can reduce your risk of many types of cancer. At least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day is recommended. They contain antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage that occurs as a result of normal metabolism. In addition, emphasize unsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids), especially those found in salmon and other fish, because they may help protect against cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight can also help protect against many diseases, including cancer of the thyroid.