Can endocrine system diseases be prevented?

Endocrine system diseases can be hard to prevent, because doctors do not understand what causes many of them. Family history, certain cancers, infections like tuberculosis, and autoimmune disorder could increase your risk of endocrine system diseases. If you think you have a high risk of endocrine system disease, talk to your doctor about prevention.

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
“Endocrine disease” encompasses many medical problems, so there isn’t a simple yes or no answer to this question. Certainly in the case of diabetes, one of the most common endocrine problems, there is a great deal that one can do to prevent disease. Maintaining a normal body weight, consuming a diet low in highly-processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly can all reduce the risk of diabetes. In some cases, thyroid problems may be the result of too much or too little iodine ingestion, so either increasing or decreasing the iodine intake may reduce the risk of thyroid disease. In parts of Eastern Europe and many less-developed countries iodine deficiency may be an issue, and in Japan overall iodine intake is high enough to increase the frequency of thyroid disease. Iodine in the United States and most of Western Europe is generally in a satisfactory range. Even so, thyroid problems remain quite common.

On the other hand, most endocrine disorders are not the result of lifestyle issues. Endocrine disease often means under-production of a hormone. Examples here are hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency and premature ovarian failure (sometimes called premature or early menopause) or male hypogonadism (testosterone deficiency). In many cases these are the result of an autoimmune attack against the hormone-producing gland. There are usually no environmental or lifestyle issues that influence these conditions. Tumors, infections, surgery or trauma may also cause under-production of hormones. Tumors may also cause hormone over-production, or may cause symptoms by virtue of their size even without affecting hormone production. However, these are not the result of lifestyle issues and generally are not preventable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.