by Svetla Bankova
Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI) is one of the most popular (and world wide recommended treatments) for Graves’ Disease and Hyperthyroidism. The debates whether it is helpful or not, dangerous or not, preferable or not, have been going on for decades. But why doctors in some parts of the world are not so happy about this treatment? And why so many patients regret it?
Here is the place to admit that I am totally against the RAI treatment option- so don’t ask me again. I personally never went through RAI, thank God, and I am so happy about my choice I made 13 years ago. I still have my thyroid intact and I am in a very good health…
Why I am so against it? See below…And If I succeeded to make you re-think your decision for choose Radioactive Iodine treatment (RAI)- I’ll be saving one more thyroid gland today!
Radioactive iodine (I-131) is given orally (either by pill or liquid) on a one-time basis to abate a hyperactive gland. I-131 is given after routine iodine scans, and uptake of the iodine is determined to confirm hyperthyroidism (but this uptake is actually not so dangerous). The radioactive iodine is picked up by the active cells in the thyroid and its function is to destroy them. Since iodine is only picked up by thyroid cells, the destruction is considered local, and many people think that there are no widespread side effects with this therapy. But is that so?
My 10 Top Reasons to avoid Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI):
1. As we already know, Graves’ disease is not a thyroid disorder, it is an autoimmune disorder that affects your thyroid. However, RAI is a permanent solution, aiming to destroy your thyroid, and there is no way back, it’s irreversible.
2. It is dangerous for breastfeeding and pregnancy. RAI can cause difficulty with future attempts to become pregnant and carry pregnancies to term. RAI is known to affect the ovaries, which is why patients are recommended to avoid becoming pregnancy for at least 6 months after RAI. The 6 months recommendation was increased to at least one year in early 2002. It is not recommended to conceive 8- 12 months after the iodine uptake. Is it so safe then?
3. RAI treatment will cause a permanent Hypothyroidism condition. Radiation-induced hypothyroidism is more difficult to treat than naturally occurring hypothyroidism, because there will be no thyroid gland any more. Hypothyroidism, caused by irradiation of the thyroid gland, is known to cause depression and anxiety, as one of the side effects. In one large Dutch study, “over one third of patients with a full-time job were unable to resume the same work after treatment”. Is is worthy then? It appears that many of these patients will be in need of psychological support, probably for life.
4. Thyroid Eye Disease, if you have that symptom, it can, and as my experience shows, will become worse. RAI doesn’t stop the thyroid antibody production, so chances of thyroid eye disease to become worse increase significantly. However, many doctors fail to tell their patients that fact.
5. You will have to take thyroid pills for hypothyroidism for the rest of your life.
6. RAI, (” the nuclear waste”, in other words), is absorbed by other organs and can cause cell death or DNA mutations. RAI is absorbed, in smaller amounts, by other organs besides the thyroid, including breast tissue, the genitals, pancreas, and the gastric mucosa.
7. Numerous studies show an increase in cancer rates, especially of the thyroid gland and small bowel, after RAI treatment. So speaking, after this treatment your chances to get cancer, any type of cancer, increase dramatically.
8. Chances of significant, unhealthy weight gain is increased. Studies show that weight gain is inevitable after radio iodine-induced hypothyroidism. And you can’t control it with the usual diet and exercise, because it will be controlled by the hypothyroidism medications you’re taking.
9. Increased risk of developing fibromyalgia like symptoms. Do you want to feel fatigued and in pain for the rest of your life? I don’t think so..
10. Difficulties to control hypothyroidism as a result of RAI treatment.
These are just a few of the side effects, if you decide to undergo that type of treatment. In my 10 years practice I have not met a person who did not regret their decision for undergoing RAI treatment, for one or another reason. Apparently, RAI will not fix your thyroid problems at all- it will create other health problems, even more difficult to manage. So, before taking the decision to solve your Hyperthyroidism/ Graves’ Disease problems with the Radioactive iodine pill, please, consider the above mentioned dangers and side effects.
Of course, there are other alternative methods that I believe you should try before even considering RAI treatment for your Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. I write about these methods, especially the ones I’ve used to treat my Grave’ disease, in my books. Please, feel free to check them out: