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Thyroid Cancer Diet, Nutrition

As the name suggests, thyroid cancer affects the thyroid gland. While it is rare, there are several excellent treatment options. In addition to treatment, a diet for thyroid cancer is important as it helps to control the symptoms of the condition. There are no specific foods for thyroid cancer but an overall balanced diet can help you deal with the condition. Typically, your doctor would suggest that you consume a low iodine diet, especially if you are undergoing radioactive iodine therapy.
Such a diet essentially limits your iodine consumption to about 50 micrograms a day. This means that you will need to limit your intake of iodine rich foods such as cheddar cheese, fish, eggs, and cheese cake. You will also have to avoid iodized salt.

Fruits and vegetables are usually low in iodine. However, starchy foods like potatoes and yams should be avoided as they have high iodine content. You can consume cereals such as oatmeal, shredded wheat and corn instead. Consume meats and grains in moderation. You can also consume egg whites, nuts, broths, soups, and almost all herbs and spices. Some of the foods to avoid include milk chocolates and cream. Also avoid seafood as it is high in iodine, especially shrimp and lobster. Processed foods also contain high amounts of iodine and therefore should be avoided. Avoid foods with red dyes, preservatives and additives. You should also avoid all soy products.

Diet Plan:

It is no surprise that nutrition is vital to prepare your body against cancer. Whether you are already in treatment or you are about to begin, it is important to ensure that you maintain a healthy cancer diet. The American Cancer Society has recommended that you should consume a variety of foods which can raise your nutritional status and protect your body during the accidental damage during the treatment.

Those who have recently undergone surgery, it is important to take care of your diet. As soon as you have had the surgery, remain on a clear liquid diet for at least one week. While you are recuperating, consume ice chips regularly as this will help you to deal with some of the unpleasant side effects. After the initial effects of anesthesia wear off, you should consume clear broths, soups, and gelatin. Usually the hospital provides you with these foods during your recovery. Your doctor will let you know when you can resume your regular diet plan. Since you may lose body mass after your surgery, the doctor might recommend lean meats such as lean beef, juices, fish and chicken. You will be asked to avoid consuming high fat foods, refined foods and greasy foods. Consume at least three servings of fresh fruits such as pears and berries for their nutrient value and antioxidants.
During your chemotherapy as well as radiation sessions, you may experience a sudden loss of appetite coupled with sores in your mouth, vomiting, and nausea; you may also experience constant fatigue. To fight these symptoms, consume lean meats, Greek yogurt, broccoli, beans, protein cereals, juices, egg whites and lentils. Avoid consuming fried and greasy foods and consume a lot of roughage to have a control over your bowel movements. High fiber foods are also important in order to prevent constipation and nausea. Consume wheat crackers and cream of wheat cereals to deal with nausea and vomiting.


There are some nutritional considerations for thyroid cancer. In addition to avoiding cheese and fish, avoid egg yolks as they have a high iodine content. Avoid a high intake of chicken, pork, and fatty cuts of red meats. Instead, increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The nutrients from these vegetables and fruits, along with the anti-oxidants contained in them, can help reduce the risk of complications. You should ideally consume the full set of nutrients including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, plus the B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. However, avoid consuming iodine, especially if you are on the radioactive iodine therapy.

There are no specific guidelines for nutrition for thyroid cancer. You can consume fresh fruits and vegetables as well as leaner cuts of white meat as these contain all the nutrients that you would require to remain healthy and maintain your strength during treatment. Do not consume any supplements without consulting with your doctor first. Some of the best herbs for the treatment of these conditions include parsley, rosemary, thyme, mint and dill. All of these have micronutrients, which can help you with your condition.

Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer

Though thyroid cancer does not have any specific symptoms in the early stages, you could see changes at a later stage. The following are the signs of thyroid cancer:
  • Lump around the Adam’s apple. This is a nodule that protrudes from the front of the neck
  • Hoarseness and an inability to speak normally
  • Swelling in the neck, especially around the lymph glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful breathing
  • Throat and neck pain
  • Often, these symptoms may be a sign of infection or goiter. Your doctor can make a diagnosis.


Causes of thyroid cancer range from genetics to environmental factors. Here are some of the most common causes of the condition.

  • Radiation: Experiencing high levels of radiation could cause thyroid cancer.
  • Family history: You are more likely to develop this cancer if someone in your family has it.
  • Gender: Females are more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men.
  • Age: People in their middle age are more prone to developing thyroid cancer.
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop thyroid cancer.
  • Lack of iodine: Iodine deficiencies can also increase the likelihood of developing the cancer.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

The treatment for thyroid cancer is traditional and very much like that of any other cancer. There are a few medical tests such as CT scans and MRI scans that can be used to diagnose the condition. The cancer itself may be treated with surgery, hormone treatment and hormone replacement, external radiation, chemotherapy and radioactive iodine therapy. Most patients get a combination of treatments. There are, however, no home remedies for treatment of thyroid cancer.


There are not a lot of methods of prevention of thyroid cancer. However, the simplest way to ensure that you do not experience it is to stay away from radiation that could cause gene mutation. Those who have had nuclear exposure should consume potassium iodide tablets which are available as over the counter supplements.


There are several methods of thyroid cancer diagnosis. Here’s how it is diagnosed:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests such as TSH and CBC
  • Ultrasonography
  • Radionuclide scanning    
  • Biopsy by either surgery or fine needle aspiration
Submitted on January 16, 2014