'It's not you. It's your thyroid.' Campaign Launched to Raise Awareness of Symptoms


'It's not you. It's your thyroid.' Campaign Launched to Raise Awareness of Symptoms


DARMSTADT, Germany, May 22, 2017 /PRNewswire=KYODO JBN/--

The information contained in this release is not appropriate for audiences in

the USA and Canada.

- International survey reveals that almost a third of women could not explain

what thyroid disorders are  

- Most respondents were unaware that symptoms could be a result of an

underlying thyroid disorder

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced its support of

the 9th International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW), a week that highlights

some of the lesser-known aspects of thyroid disorders, which runs from May 22

to 28. This year's ITAW campaign, 'It's not you. It's your thyroid.',

highlights the striking similarities between the symptoms of thyroid disorders

and the effects of today's fast-paced lifestyles. It is based on results from

an international survey commissioned by Merck, in collaboration with Thyroid

Federation International (TFI), which reveals many women blame themselves, and

their lifestyle choices, for symptoms such as weight changes, irritability,

anxiety, insomnia, and excessive tiredness, not realizing that a thyroid

disorder could be the underlying cause.

Thyroid disorders affect an estimated 200 million people worldwide and in some

countries almost 50% of people remain undiagnosed.[1] Thyroid disorders are 10

times more common in women,[2] by the age of 60, 17% of women will develop

hypothyroidism, the most common type of thyroid disorder.[3] If thyroid hormone

imbalances are undiagnosed and left untreated, they may have a harmful effect

on a person's health and well-being.[4],[5] It is therefore critical that

people are aware of the symptoms, and if spotted, they are not ignored.

The survey involved women in seven countries, and highlighted the tendency of

women to blame their lifestyle choices for symptoms that could be caused by a

thyroid disorder.[6] Nearly half (49%) of respondents said they had blamed

their lifestyle choices for feeling restless or having difficulty sleeping,

while 40% blamed lifestyle choices for feeling depressed, anxious, and

tired.[6] In reality, these are common symptoms of a thyroid disorder. This

tendency to blame symptoms of lifestyle choices could be further exacerbated by

the fact that almost a quarter (23%) of respondents could recall telling a

friend or loved one to accept feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable as part

of life, while 19% of respondents could recall telling them to accept feeling

tired or sluggish every day.[6]

Ashok Bhaseen, President of TFI, said: "The survey results highlight an

important reason why millions of people go through life without being diagnosed

or treated for a thyroid disorder, resulting in a poor quality of life. It

reveals that thyroid disorders can be the culprit hiding behind the symptoms

that many of us put down to today's busy lifestyle. We hope it will encourage

more people to speak to their healthcare professional rather than dismissing

their symptoms as a normal part of everyday life."

The aim of the 'It's not you. It's your thyroid.' campaign is to help people

recognize that they may be wrongly blaming themselves for their symptoms. Some

of the symptoms of too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) are

constipation, lack of motivation, lack of concentration, depression, or weight

gain.[7] The symptoms of too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) include

weight loss and irritability.[8],[9] Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

can lead to anxiety, menstrual difficulties, and difficulty sleeping.[7],[8]

The survey underlined why it can be so difficult to spot a thyroid disorder.

Symptoms such as feeling unable to concentrate (29.6%), difficulty getting

pregnant (30%), and slow bowel movements and constipation (29%) were not

commonly associated with thyroid disorders by respondents.[6] A feature of

thyroid disorders that makes them difficult to spot is that the hormones

produced in the thyroid gland help regulate many different functions in the

body. The symptoms can therefore be diverse and are not specific or unique.[10]

Simon Sturge, Chief Operating Officer at Merck's Biopharma division, said:

"Merck is partnering with TFI on the International Thyroid Awareness Week for

the ninth year running. Together, we help to ensure that people have the

information they need to recognize potential thyroid disorders and see their

doctor, rather than blame themselves and accept how they're feeling. A simple

blood test can check whether or not the thyroid gland is functioning normally."

Campaign materials can be accessed via the campaign website at

http://www.thyroidaware.com. These include a brochure and an interactive quiz

that address misconceptions about the symptoms of thyroid disorder, and provide

information to help people identify if they could be suffering unnecessarily.

ITAW is now an established and highly regarded global awareness campaign

endorsed by the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the European Thyroid

Association (ETA), and the Chinese Society of Endocrinology (CSE). For more

information visit the ITAW website, http://www.thyroidaware.com.

About thyroid disorders  

There are two primary types of thyroid disorder: hypothyroidism and

hyperthyroidism, which both have different causes and symptoms.

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, is caused when the thyroid

gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This means that the body's

cells can't get enough thyroid hormones to work properly and the body's

metabolism slows down.[11]

Hypothyroidism can have many causes, including autoimmune disease, damage to

the thyroid gland, too much or too little iodine, and radiation treatment.[11]

Left untreated, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will usually progress, and can

cause more serious complications and even become life-threatening.[4]

Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, occurs when the thyroid gland

releases too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream, speeding up the body's


Hyperthyroidism tends to run in families, occurring most commonly in young


The majority of cases of hyperthyroidism are caused by a condition called

Graves' disease.[10] In this condition, antibodies in the blood activate the

thyroid gland, causing it to grow in size and secrete too much thyroid

hormone.[10] Another type of hyperthyroidism is characterized by nodules or

lumps in the thyroid gland, which increase the levels of thyroid hormone in the

blood.[10] It is important that the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are not left

untreated as serious complications can occur.[5]

How common are thyroid disorders?  

Thyroid disorders are some of the most-frequent diseases in the world with

about 1.6 billion people worldwide at risk.[12] By the age of 60, 17% of women

and 8% of men suffer from an underactive thyroid.[3]

An underactive thyroid gland is more common in women than in men and its

occurrence rises with age. An overactive thyroid gland is 10 times more common

in women than in men. It is most common in the age group of 20-40 years, but

may occur at any age.[2]

About the survey[6]

The global omnibus survey was conducted by Censuswide, with online interviews

conducted 24-31 January 2017 among the women aged 18 and over.

From seven countries worldwide 6,171 women were polled:

France - 1,006 respondents

Italy - 1,004 respondents

Mexico - 1,002 respondents

Brazil - 1,003 respondents

Saudi Arabia - 151 respondents

Chile - 1,001 respondents

Indonesia - 1,004 respondents

People with a history of thyroid disorders were screened out.  

The survey results established respondent's responses to 10 issues that are

associated with thyroid disorders.

About Thyroid Federation International (TFI)    

TFI first convened in Toronto at the 11th International Thyroid Congress in

September 1995. Diana Meltzer Abramsky, who in 1980 founded the Thyroid

Foundation of Canada in Kingston, Ontario Canada, first advocated the vision of

a world thyroid patient organization to deal with the problems of thyroid

disease in a global perspective. Since then the Federation has grown to include

thyroid organizations in many parts of the world, including Europe, North and

South America, Australia, and Japan. TFI is an independent, worldwide network

of patient-support organizations. The Federation works together for the benefit

of those affected by thyroid disorders by providing information and raising

awareness, by encouraging and assisting the formation of patient-oriented

groups, and by working closely with the medical professions. TFI has a Medical

Advisory Board, which consists of some of the most eminent thyroid specialists

in the world. For more information, please visit


All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become

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About Merck  

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science

and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop

technologies that improve and enhance life - from biopharmaceutical therapies

to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific

research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD

televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of EUR 15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical

company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed

corporate group. The company holds the global rights to the Merck name and

brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company

operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.


1. Thyroid Foundation of Canada. About thyroid disease. Available at

http://www.thyroid.ca/thyroid_disease.php. Last accessed March 2017

2. NHS Choices. Overactive thyroid. Available at

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Thyroid-over-active/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Last

accessed March 2017

3. All Thyroid. Thyroid Problems over 50. Available at

http://www.allthyroid.org/disorders/aging/over50.html. Last accessed March 2017

4. EndocrineWeb. Hypothyroidism: Too little thyroid hormone. Available at


Last accessed March 2017

5. American Thyroid Association. Clinical thyroidology for the public -

Hyperthyroidism. Available at


. Last accessed March 2017

6. Censuswide. Thyroid Disorder Awareness Survey - Commissioned by Merck.

January 2017.

7. Thyroid UK. Signs & Symptoms of Hypothyroidism. 2013. Available at


. Last accessed March 2017

8. Thyroid UK. Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism. 2010. Available at


. Last accessed March 2017

9. British Thyroid Foundation. Psychological Symptoms & Thyroid Disorders.

Available at


Last accessed March 2017

10. American Thyroid Association. Hyperthyroidism. Available at


Last accessed March 2017

11. American Thyroid Association. Hypothyroidism. Available at


Last accessed March 2017

12. Khan A, Khan MM, Akhtar S. Thyroid disorders, etiology and prevalence. J

Med Sci 2002;2:89-94. Available at


Last accessed March 2017

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