Why are four out of five thyroid patients women?

Public Awareness Seminar on Thyroid at University of Karachi


KARACHI – Normal thyroid function is essential for health. A deficiency of thyroxine leads to slowing of all body processes and weight gain. Around 80 per cent of people suffering from thyroid problems are women. Thyroxine deficiency is easily treatable. Auto-immunity (a failure of the body’s immune system) is another common cause of goitre and thyroid dysfunction. Iodized salt should be used regularly as Pakistan is an area of iodine insufficiency, which may lead to the development of goitres.

These views were expressed by Prof Dr Tasnim Ahsan, Dean Faculty of Endocrinology, College of Physicians & Surgeons; Former Executive Director (CEO) and Head of the Department of Medicine, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) at the public awareness seminar on Thyroid, held at the seminar room of Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi (UoK).


PCMD, University of Karachi and Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) jointly organised the seminar.

Prof Ahsan said that thyroid disorders constituted the commonest endocrine disorder the world over. A swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland is called goitre, she said, adding that this may or may not be associated with thyroid dysfunction.

Talking about the functions of the thyroid gland, she said that the only function of thyroid gland was to make thyroxine, a hormone that is required by every cell of the body to function normally. She maintained that a deficiency of thyroxine leads to slowing of all body processes and weight gain.

An excess of thyroxine production or release leads to opposite effects, she said and added that thyroxine deficiency was easily treatable and requires lifelong replacement therapy.


“Hypersecretion can be treated either with oral medicines, radio-active iodine or surgery. A particular variety of auto-immune thyroid disease called Grave’s disease may also be associated with the involvement of one or both eyes, which may have to be treated independent of the thyroid,” Prof Ahsan said.

A doctor should be consulted urgently if there is a rapidly enlarging goitre or nodules in the neck, as these may indicate thyroid cancer, she said.

It is interesting, that women are more likely to have both iodine deficiency and thyroid disease, than men: it is considered, that every third woman of the planet sooner or later face this problem. According to different research, women are having problems with thyroid gland 3-10 times more, than men. This also applies to toxic goiter, and insufficiency of thyroid hormones.

The human body contains about 25 mg of iodine. Much of it is in the thyroid gland, which regulates the metabolism, so the lack of iodine is a very serious problem for the body that leads to the development of several diseases that affect mental and physical development.

According to the endocrinologist the thyroid gland synthesises thyroid hormones that are responsible for many of the complex metabolic processes in the body. First of all, they are needed for normal sexual activity, nervous, muscular and skeletal systems.


As women are more susceptible to different hormonal leaps, their body is very sensitive to any hormonal changes and react to them sharper than the “calm” male body. That is why iodine deficiency often causes complications in the female reproductive system, and not in men.

Thyroid cancer is a disease that one gets when abnormal cells begin to grow in his or her thyroid gland, she explained and maintained that thyroid cancer was an uncommon type of cancer.

She pointed out that iodine was an element that was needed for the production of thyroid hormone. Iodine rich food should be an essential part of people diet, she said and added that iodine was found in various foods like fish, milk, yogurt and other dairy products.

December 14, 2017

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