Newswise — The American Thyroid Association, in cooperation with its sister associations the world over, supports World Thyroid Day, May 25, 2010, marking it as a day to promote awareness and understanding of thyroid health and the advances made in treating thyroid diseases.

World Thyroid Day was established in 2008 as part of a campaign led by the European Thyroid Association ( and the American Thyroid Association ( to emphasize the prevalence of thyroid diseases, to focus on the urgent need for education and prevention programs and to increase awareness of new treatment modalities.

The thyroid gland, butterfly-shaped, relatively small, and located in the middle of the lower neck, produces hormones that influence every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The thyroid hormones regulate the body's metabolism—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen—and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

Diseases of the thyroid, including thyroid cancer, thyroid failure and thyroid overactivity, affect tens of millions of people worldwide.

“World Thyroid Day is dedicated to patients and all who are committed to clinical and experimental thyroidology,” said Dr. Leonidas Duntas, chair of the European Thyroid Association and Professor of Endocrinology at the University of Athens Medical School. “We feel confident that by merging our efforts and our resources we may substantially contribute to raising awareness of thyroid diseases through increasing information about thyroid disorders that afflict so many millions of patients around the globe.”

“Thyroid disorders are increasingly being recognized in our population and may affect anyone from childhood to old age and are a frequent cause of problems with fertility, pregnancy and brain development,” said Dr. Terry Davies, president of the American Thyroid Association. “Increased awareness of these disorders by the public will improve their treatment and aid research into their causes."

“Hypothyroidism,” an underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This is the most common form of thyroid disease. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, irregular menses and weight gain. Treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic form of thyroid hormone called “levothyroxine.”

“Hyperthyroidism,” is a condition causing the gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation. Graves’ disease, one type of hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder that is partly genetic.

The thyroid also has a great impact on women’s health during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the thyroid gland produces up to 50 percent more thyroid hormone as compared to when a woman is not pregnant, and may increase in size by 10-15 percent. The chance of developing hypothyroidism during pregnancy is increased as compared to when a woman is not pregnant. The ATA recommends that women at high-risk for thyroid disease should be screened on becoming pregnant. Thyroid cancer is the most rapidly increasing form of cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute reported 37,200 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2009. Growths in the thyroid gland may be discovered by self-examination and, in the vast majority of patients, can be completely cured. They must be distinguished from benign nodules common in the population.

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the lead organization in promoting thyroid health and understanding thyroid biology. The ATA values scientific inquiry, clinical excellence, public service, education, collaboration, and collegiality.

A non-profit medical society founded in 1923, the ATA fulfills its mission through supporting excellence and innovation in research, clinical care, education, and public health. ATA members are physicians and scientists who work to enhance the understanding of thyroid physiology and pathophysiology, improve the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases, and promote the education of physicians, patients, and the public about thyroid disorders.

The official journal “Thyroid” of the ATA is published monthly. “Clinical Thyroidology” is published online monthly for the benefit of clinicians and scientists around the world. To further benefit patients, the ATA publishes an online journal “Clinical Thyroidology for Patients.”

Thyroid diseases are among the most common disorders of the endocrine system, affecting almost 13 million Americans alone. The ATA has extensive online information for patients on thyroid disease (in English and Spanish) serving the clinician as a resource for patients and the public who look for reliable information on the internet. The Alliance for Patient Education was formed in 2002 to offer an exchange of information between the ATA and patient education groups: ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.; the Light of Life Foundation, and the Graves’ Disease Foundation. A public forum is held each year in conjunction with the ATA annual meeting.

ATA 6066 Leesburg Pike, Suite 550, Falls Church, VA 22041 * (703) 998-8890 (Fax) (703) 998-8893 *

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