How Alcohol Consumption Impacts Thyroid Function

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Alcohol is known to have an effect on thyroid function, but the specifics are unclear.

Some studies have reported that alcohol causes cellular toxicity, which results in a direct suppression of thyroid function.

Other studies show that consuming alcohol in moderation has been reported to decrease the risk of developing hypothyroidism.

To decide what’s right for you, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional regarding the consumption of alcohol and your overall health. 

Alcohol and Thyroid Function

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Alcohol and Thyroid Hormone Response

The thyroid gland produces three hormones, called:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Tetraiodothyronine, or thyroxine (T4)
  • Calcitonin

The pituitary gland produces TSH, which helps regulate T3 and T4 hormones. These hormones are fueled by iodine, which is used to make thyroid hormones.

Studies have found that alcohol causes direct cellular toxicity on thyroid cells, thereby producing thyroid suppression and reducing thyroid volume.

How Alcohol Affects Thyroid Cancer

Alcohol is known to affect thyroid cancer. One study showed that the greater the intake of alcohol, the lower the risk of thyroid cancer.

In another study, a large reduction of cancer risk was found among those who consumed two or more drinks per day compared to no drinks. Research suggests this finding could be due to the fact that alcohol could prevent the growth of rapid production of TSH hormone on the thyroid follicle and reduce the risk of cancer.

How Alcohol Affects Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases

Autoimmune thyroid disease is caused by antibodies that attack the thyroid. This can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Numerous studies have shown that alcohol may reduce the development of overt autoimmune hypothyroidism in men and women below the age of 60.

The study further explained that modest to high alcohol consumption did show protection from developing autoimmune overt hypothyroidism, but a higher consumption of alcoholic beverages did not show this level of protection.

Another study concluded that consuming a small amount of alcohol weekly may reduce the development of Graves’ disease. The amount is equivalent to one glass of wine or one bottle of beer.

The study also shared that the effect of the reduction of Graves’ disease is higher with consuming one to two glasses of wine per day. This study is independent of smoking habits, age, and sex of the individual.

It’s important to note that these studies are not focused on causation, but rather simple association. Alcohol consumption has other significant harmful effects, so it should not be recommended to enhance thyroid health based on studies that show loose associations.

How Alcohol Is Used to Treat Certain Thyroid Conditions 

A treatment called alcohol ablation therapy—also known as percutaneous ethanol injection or PEI–is used to destroy thyroid cancer that reoccurs and lymph nodes without surgery. It is also used to shrink large thyroid fluid-filled nodules and cysts.

The procedure consists of directly injecting ethanol through a needle or catheter. The side effects and complications of this treatment are known to be minimal.

A Word From Verywell

When consuming any amount of alcohol, it should be done in moderation, if at all. If you have any type of health condition—such as a thyroid issue or anything else—speak with your healthcare provider before consuming alcohol.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Balhara YP, Deb KS. Impact of alcohol use on thyroid function. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013;17(4):580-587. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.113724

  2. American Thyroid Association. Drinking alcohol reduces the risk of developing Graves’ disease. Clin Thyroidology for the Public. 2013;6(11):3.

  3. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. How does the thyroid gland work?

  4. Hahn SY, Shin JH, Na DG, et al. Ethanol ablation of the thyroid nodules: 2018 consensus statement by the Korean Society of Thyroid RadiologyKorean J Radiol. 2019;20(4):609-620. doi:10.3348/kjr.2018.0696

By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.