Thyroid hormones and cancer: clinical studies of hypothyroidism in oncology

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2010 Oct;17(5):432-6. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32833d9710.


Purpose of review: To collect and assess clinical reports of a putative relationship between thyroid state and the biology of cancers of various types.

Recent findings: A number of prospective case-control studies reviewed here have suggested that subclinical hyperthyroidism increases risk of certain solid tumors and that spontaneous hypothyroidism may delay onset or reduce aggressiveness of cancers. Small case studies have reached similar conclusions. A controlled prospective trial of induced hypothyroidism beneficially affected the course of glioblastoma. A context in which to interpret such findings is the recent description of a plasma membrane receptor for thyroid hormone on cancer cells and dividing tumor-associated endothelial cells.

Summary: Accumulating clinical evidence may justify new, broadly-based controlled studies in cancer patients of the possible contribution of thyroid hormone to tumor behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antithyroid Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / complications*
  • Hypothyroidism / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / chemically induced
  • Hypothyroidism / metabolism*
  • Integrin alphaVbeta3 / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Propylthiouracil / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Hormones / adverse effects
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use


  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Integrin alphaVbeta3
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Propylthiouracil