Thyroid disorders linked to microbiome issues

Thyroid disorders linked to microbiome issues

Research is consistently showing that thyroid problems (thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) stem from an imbalance of gut bacteria; problems may even have started at birth.

Several studies have shown that predominance of particular bacterial species in the microbiome can affect the susceptibility to hyperthyroid disorders or even papillary thyroid cancer (1, 2).

Hyperthyroidism has been linked to lowered levels of members of the two main Lactic Acid bacterial families, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium; while Enterococcus strains are more prevalent.

Research shows that a staggering 90% of hyperthyroid disorders have an ‘auto-immune’ factor lying behind them. This has been shown, for example, in Hashimoto’s where an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (SIBO) prompts an immune response. In this case, the right bacteria grow in the wrong place. An immune response is an all-over-body response so an immune response attacking something out of the ordinary in the gut can attack a similar feature in the thyroid.

Go to: Hashimoto’s disease

A healthy thyroid may start from birth

In the 2015 study by Stamford Medical School researchers, 61,803 teachers were studied for their thyroid issues and backgrounds. Those that grew up in a rural setting or who had a live-in dog or cat when young had a far lower risk of developing papillary thyroid cancer later in life.

In a 2019 study (3) both thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer were clearly associated with the composition of the microbiome. While, again, lowered levels of Lactobacillus were found, so too were levels of helpful Butyricimonas bacteria lowered. However, levels of Streptococcus and Neisseria were found in much higher levels in those people with thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and author of bestseller 'Heal your Gut – Heal your Body' said, “Much of this is to do with 'the Hygiene Hypothesis'. Where our children now grow up in highly sanitised environments, they have less exposure to bacteria when young and so end up with less diverse and consequently less protective microbiomes. The microbiome primes the immune system. Poor diet, lack of soluble fibre, antibiotics, parasite infection, stress, alcohol, drugs and more can further weaken the microbiome; but so can caesarean births and lack of breast feeding. The long-term risks of almost all illness greatly increases. Thyroid issues are no different; Dr. Jack Gilbert told us much of this at the Annual ENDO conference in 2017 (4).

Go to: Overview of Thyroid cancer

I find it also interesting that yet again, butyrate-producing bacteria are lowered. A 2020 study (5) on hypothyroidism showed significant links to the gut microbiome make up – especially a loss of Butyrate and other important short-chain esters. I think butyrate is now rapidly being established as a crucial health promoting compound, often missing along with the bacteria that make it, but easy to supplement.”

Go to: Buy Butyrate at best prices




  1. Kiseleva EP, Mikhailopulo K, Sviridov OV, et al. The role of components of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in pathogenesis and serologic diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid diseases. 
  2. Clarke CA, Reynolds P, Oakely-Girvan I, et al. Indicators of microbial-rich environments and the development of papillary thyroid cancer in the California Teachers Study. Cancer Epidemiol. 2015;39(4):548-53.
  3. Endocrine; 2019 Jun;64(3):564-574
  4.  Gilbert J. Thyroid Cancer and the Microbiome. Presented at: American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (AASE) 2017 annual meeting on April 3, 2017; Orlando, Florida.
  5. Gut dysbiosis and hypothyroidism; Clin Sci, June 2020; Xinhuan Su et al


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