Obesity and thyroid cancer risk

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2023 Oct 1;30(5):244-251. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000825. Epub 2023 Jul 6.


Purpose of review: This review explores recent evidence assessing the relationship between obesity and thyroid cancer.

Recent findings: Consistent evidence from observational studies suggests that obesity increases the risk of thyroid cancer. The relationship persists when alternative measures of adiposity are used, but the strength of association may vary according to the timing and duration of obesity and how obesity or other metabolic parameters are defined as exposures. Recent studies have reported an association between obesity and thyroid cancers that are larger or have adverse clinicopathologic features, including those with BRAF mutations, thus providing evidence that the association is relevant for clinically significant thyroid cancers. The underlying mechanism for the association remains uncertain but may be driven by disruption in adipokines and growth-signaling pathways.

Summary: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer, although further research is required to understand the biological mechanisms underpinning this relationship. Reducing the prevalence of obesity is predicted to lessen the future burden of thyroid cancer. However, the presence of obesity does not impact current recommendations for screening or management of thyroid cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / genetics