The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the world’s leading professional association of medical specialists dedicated to education and research to improve thyroid disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment; improving thyroid patient care; and educating the public about thyroid health and diseases.
Prevalence and Impact of Thyroid Disease
More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
- Most thyroid cancers respond to treatment, although a small percentage can be very aggressive.
- The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
- Pregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
- Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention.
Facts about the Thyroid Gland and Thyroid Disease
The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland that regulates 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.
- The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck.
- Although the thyroid gland is relatively small, it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
- Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and some weight gain.
- Hyperthyroidism, another form of thyroid disease, 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.
Research Advancements in Thyroid Disease
Research funded by the American Thyroid Association over the past 40 years has accomplished:
- Mandatory screening of newborns for congenital hypothyroidism, and early treatment that has prevented mental retardation.
- Cost-effective methods to detect thyroid cancer by screening the 250,000 thyroid nodules developed in Americans each year.
- Groundbreaking work in brain development and thyroid hormone function.