RAI was first used to treat hyperthyroidism in the 1950's. Recent long-term studies show that RAI causes an increased risk of thyroid and small bowel cancers.
Why is RAI still used most often to treat GD? Because it's the least expensive method, requiring few follow-up visits...only annual checkups for the resulting hypothyroidism. Radioiodine, usually I-131 taken orally, works by destroying thyroid cells, thereby reducing the amount of thyroid tissue capable of producing and releasing thyroid hormone. However, the thyroid is the victim in GD, not the cause. An immune system defect is responsible for symptoms in GD.
Radioiodine can damage your salivary glands, causing symptoms much like those in Sjogren's syndrome. RAI can also damage your parathyroid glands. RAI is also known to trigger fibromyalgia.
© 11 Mar 2006 Copyrighted by Elaine Moore
“Diagnosed with GD, I was told that I could suddenly go into thyroid storm. Now I know better, but then I rushed into having RAI ablation. For people with severe symptoms who are allergic to ATD's and who are surgical risks, RAI may be the only option. For me, it was the worst decision I've ever made. I'm now hypothyroid and I have pretibial myxedema. RAI affects other organs besides the thyroid. ATD's are capable of achieving remission in 90% of GD patients. Many people with mild to moderate symptoms have been successfully treated with alternative medicine.” – Elaine Moore