Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease

Mary H. Ward, Briseis A. Kilfoy, Peter J. Weyer, Kristin E. Anderson, Aaron R. Folsom, James R Cerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Nitrate is a contaminant of drinking water in agricultural areas and is found at high levels in some vegetables. Nitrate competes with uptake of iodide by the thyroid, thus potentially affecting thyroid function. METHODS: We investigated the association of nitrate intake from public water supplies and diet with the risk of thyroid cancer and self-reported hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in a cohort of 21,977 older women in Iowa who were enrolled in 1986 and who had used the same water supply for >10 years. We estimated nitrate ingestion from drinking water using a public database of nitrate measurements (1955-1988). Dietary nitrate intake was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire and levels from the published literature. Cancer incidence was determined through 2004. RESULTS: We found an increased risk of thyroid cancer with higher average nitrate levels in public water supplies and with longer consumption of water exceeding 5 mg/L nitrate-N (for ≥ 5 years at >5 mg/L, relative risk [RR] = 2.6 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-6.2]). We observed no association with prevalence of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Increasing intake of dietary nitrate was associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer (highest vs. lowest quartile, RR = 2.9 [1.0-8.1]; P for trend = 0.046) and with the prevalence of hypothyroidism (odds ratio = 1.2 [95% CI = 1.1-1.4]), but not hyperthyroidism. CONCLUSIONS: Nitrate may play a role in the etiology of thyroid cancer and warrants further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalEpidemiology
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

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Thyroid Diseases
Thyroid Neoplasms
Nitrates
Water Supply
Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism
Drinking Water
Thyroid Gland
Confidence Intervals
Iodides
Vegetables
Drinking
Eating
Odds Ratio
Databases
Diet
Food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

Cite this

Ward, M. H., Kilfoy, B. A., Weyer, P. J., Anderson, K. E., Folsom, A. R., & Cerhan, J. R. (2010). Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease. Epidemiology, 21(3), 389-395. https://doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181d6201d

Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease. / Ward, Mary H.; Kilfoy, Briseis A.; Weyer, Peter J.; Anderson, Kristin E.; Folsom, Aaron R.; Cerhan, James R.

In: Epidemiology, Vol. 21, No. 3, 05.2010, p. 389-395.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ward, MH, Kilfoy, BA, Weyer, PJ, Anderson, KE, Folsom, AR & Cerhan, JR 2010, 'Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease', Epidemiology, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 389-395. https://doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181d6201d
Ward, Mary H. ; Kilfoy, Briseis A. ; Weyer, Peter J. ; Anderson, Kristin E. ; Folsom, Aaron R. ; Cerhan, James R. / Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease. In: Epidemiology. 2010 ; Vol. 21, No. 3. pp. 389-395.
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