Overtreatment for GD?

There was an article about overtreating patients in the New York Times today. It opened with the classic case of Graves’ Disease. The article looks (briefly) at the pros and cons of getting the aggressive treatment (radioactive iodine or surgery) versus just taking a pill. Indeed, RAI and surgery do “fix” the problem, but, according to the view of the article, this may be like amputating a finger for a hangnail.

How to Steer Toward the Path of Least Treatment

The first doctor Lynn Munroe consulted about her hyperactive thyroid gland recommended radioactive iodine treatment to destroy the gland, followed by a lifelong regimen of thyroid hormone replacement pills.

The second physician she consulted said that he could operate, removing the gland without radiation, but that she would still need to take the pills.

A third doctor suggested a more cautious approach, prescribing medication to depress the gland’s activity. It worked: Ms. Munroe, 49, a publicist in West Nyack, N.Y., no longer has symptoms of hyperthyroidism, even though she has been weaned off the medication.

“And I still have my thyroid intact,” she said. “Thank God for third opinions.”

[Read the rest of this article at NYT.com]

This entry was posted in Anti-thyroid drugs, Radioactive iodine, Surgery, Treatment options. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Overtreatment for GD?

  1. Alexa W says:


    I was recently diagnosed with GD in July and I stumbled upon your blog today when I was researching Graves’ treatments. I recently started on Methimazole, and my endocrinologist told me that if the GD didn’t go into remission by 8 months from now, I would have to resort to either RAI or surgery since it is bad for my liver to be on methimazole for the rest of my life. I noticed that you have done quite a bit of research on the topic (though I am new to all of this), and I was wondering if you have ever come across other ways to help hyperthyroidism besides medication? Obviously some kind of meds will be necessary (if not the more drastic measures…), but I am curious if there is anything dietary/lifestyle related that could be hurting or helping us?


    • gravity says:

      Hi Alex,

      I know some folks feel better on certain diets, but as far as I know, there are no non-medical options that alter hormone levels, unfortunately.