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Levothyroxine and lung cancer in females: the importance of oxidative stress

Umberto Cornelli1, Gianni Belcaro2, Martino Recchia3 and Annarosa Finco4*

Author Affiliations

1 Loyola University School of Medicine, Chicago, USA

2 University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy

3 University of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland

4 Cor Con International-Ox Res Dept, Parma(PR), Italy

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2013, 11:75  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-75

Published: 8 August 2013



Levothyroxine (LT4) treatment can lead to iatrogenic hyperthyroidism and oxidative stress that can cause patient discomfort. Oxidative stress is also recognized as one of the causes of chronic diseases and cancer.


The prevalence of breast, colorectal, gastric and lung cancer in 18 Italian Regions during 2010 was correlated with the sales of LT4 in 2009. The cancer prevalence was analyzed in women aged 30ā€“84. This age range corresponds to more than 80% of the consumers of the drug and to about 99% of all malignant cancers. The correlation between sales of LT4 and cancers was determined with the technique of Density Ellipses. The age and smoking contribution for lung cancer was determined with the Sequential test.


No significant correlation was seen between LT4 sales and breast, colorectal and gastric cancers. A significant correlation was instead found for lung cancer (pā€‰<ā€‰0.05) corrected for smoking and age.


LT4 consumption in Italy is about 0.7 boxes/women/year. There is a correlation between lung cancer and LT4 treatment and oxidative stress caused by LT4 supplementation can be one of the causes. Although we cannot exclude that dysthyroidism needing LT4 supplementation might be the ground for lung cancer itself and measuring oxidative stress could be helpful in avoiding excessive use of the drug.

Levothyroxine; Smoking; Oxidative stress; Lung cancer; Dysthyroidism