In a paper published in the journal Circulation, researchers report that people with thyroid disease and their relatives who have nodules on the thyroid are more than four times more likely than their peers to die.
Researchers from the University of Southern California looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that in 2014, 2.4 million Americans over age 45 had thyroid nodule infections.
More than 1.2 million of those had a diagnosis of thyroid nodulitis, which is characterized by a high risk of death.
The researchers also looked at a population of adults who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, found that those with thyroid problems were almost three times more often than the general population to die, with 1.6 million of them dying.
“Treatment of thyroid disease should focus on the prevention of death,” Dr. William R. E. Brown, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the UCLA Center for Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
“We cannot ignore that fact, but we must acknowledge that patients with thyroid diseases are far more likely, and the longer that we wait, the more severe their problems become.”
In the study, researchers found that about one in six adults had thyroid disease, and about one-third of those cases were diagnosed with nodulosis.
In those patients, a higher percentage of patients died compared to the general public, the researchers found.
“People with thyroid problem have a much higher risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic diseases,” Dr Brown added.
“Treatment should be focused on reducing the risk of heart disease and other complications.”