Dr Oz: Thyroid Guard Controversy
Dr Oz spoke about Thyroid Cancer, the fastest growing cancer among women, last fall and advised everyone to ask for a Thyroid Guard then next time they get a Dental X-Ray or a Mammogram (click here to read the full recap of the show: Dr Oz Thyroid Cancer). Doctors and Dentists were overwhelmed by the number of requests they received for Thyroid Guards from their patients. One viewer even sent an e-mail to her friends and family members, and it went viral, spreading all across America. Eventually, two powerful medical societies responded to what Doctor Oz said and called his show erroneous. So who is right? Should we be asking for Thyroid Guards? And how can you protect your thyroid? Here are thoughts from both sides of the Thyroid Guard Debate.
Dr Oz: Thyroid Guards & Mammograms
Dr Oz spoke to two ladies from his audience. One of them said that she asked for a Thyroid Guard during her last Mammogram because she saw what Dr Oz said. They were happy to give her one, but she was upset (and rightfully so!) that they did not offer her one or even talk to her about the pros or cons before getting ready for the Mammogram. The second lady was a dentist who told Doctor Oz that she went out an ordered a Thyroid Guard (which only costs $25) so that she can offer all of her patients to use one when they do Dental X-Rays.
Doctor Oz was joined by four doctors who disagreed with what he said: Dr Phil Evans, Dr Daniel Kopans, Dr Jocelyn Rapelya and Dr Ada Cooper. Dr Oz asked what happened when people started to ask for Thyroid Guards? Dr Jocelyn Rapelya said that she explained to the first few patients who asked for Thyroid Guards that the radiation was a very low dose in Mammography and that the risk or impact on the Thyroid Gland is even less since it is out of the way of the radiation that is focused on the breast tissue. Dr Rapelya also explained that using a Thyroid Guard can compromise the resulting image, but if the patients still insisted, then she would take the image but warned them that they might have to re-do it. After she received more and more requests for Thyroid Guards she started to ask people why they were asking for them, and when everyone mentioned Dr Oz, she decided to contact him with her opinions.
One powerful argument against Mammograms causing Thyroid Cancer is that the incidence of Thyroid Cancer has been going up since 1980, and nobody knows why, but it is going up in males just as much as it is going up in females. Dr Oz clarified that he never said that Mammograms or Dental X-Rays are the only causes of Thyroid Cancer, but he does think its worth minimizing radiation in whatever ways we can. Dr Daniel Kopans argued that it is important to recognize that neither Dental X-Rays nor mammograms are at an angle that directly hit the Thyroid. The radiation is like a spotlight and focuses the x-ray on one specific area. The only radiation that the Thyroid is exposed to is something called scatter radiation, and calculations have shown that the amount of radiation your thyroid is exposed to is equal to 30 minutes of background radiation, which is the radiation that we get every day just from existing.
Dr Oz: Do Thyroid Guards Ruin Mammograms?
Dr Oz asked Dr Kopans why everyone would not want to get the least amount of radiation exposure, no matter how small the amount of radiation might be. After all, the x-ray technician protects herself by going in a separate room or standing behind a full body shield, so if there is only tiny amount of scatter, why do the technicians worry about it? Dr Kopans agreed that nobody wants to be unnecessarily exposed to radiation, but again claimed that the Thyroid does not get any significant exposure. Doctor Oz agreed that Mammograms give more exposure to your breast tissue and Dental X-Rays focus more on the teeth, but in both cases they do expose your thyroid to some amount of radiation. Dr Oz believes that even if it is not much, it is still an amount that is worth minimizing.
Doctor Oz did a second segment where he probed deeper into the question of Thyroid Shields ruining Mammogram images. Click here to read the full recap of that segment: Dr Oz: Thyroid Guards Compromise Mammogram Images? And definitely leave a comment below to share your thoughts and opinions on using Thyroid Guards for Dental X-Rays and Mammograms!
Dr Oz: Thyroid Guards & Dental X-Rays
Dr Ada Cooper told Dr Oz that in the dental field, she does recommend and encourage people to ask for Thyroid Guards because there is no concerns about it interfering with their images. In fact, the ADA recommends using Protective Thyroid Collars whenever possible to reduce the levels of radiation received. Even though these levels of radiation are low, it is better to make them even lower. Most people in Dr Oz’s office said that they did not use a Thyroid Guard during their last Dental X-Ray but almost everyone agreed that they would ask the next time they go in to have them done.