Does Alcohol Affect Your Thyroid? - Garden State Treatment Center

The short answer is yes. Alcohol has various effects on your thyroid gland. While some of the effects can be desirable, the majority of the effects are harmful and can cause quite a dysfunction in the endocrine system.

This guide will show you the basic functions of the thyroid gland and how alcohol disrupts these functions.

If you or a loved one suffers from any sort of addiction, you’re welcome to reach out to us at any time at Garden State Treatment Center.


What Is the Function of the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of the following hormones:

1. Triiodothyronine (T3)

Triiodothyronine, commonly known as T3, plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes in the body. Some of these functions include:

  • Protein Synthesis: It stimulates the synthesis and turnover of proteins, essential for cellular functions.
  • Metabolism Regulation: It increases basal metabolic rate, protein production, and energy production by boosting mitochondrial activity.
  • Growth and Development: It’s vital for skeletal growth, brain development, and maturation of the central nervous system, particularly in children.
  • Protein Synthesis: It stimulates the synthesis and turnover of proteins, essential for cellular functions.
  • Lipid Metabolism: It promotes fat breakdown, and cholesterol metabolism, and reduces blood cholesterol levels.

2. Tetraiodothyronine (Thyroxine or T4)

Tetraiodothyronine is commonly known as Thyroxine or T4. It provides mostly the same functions provided by T3.

The reason is that T4 is the main thyroid hormone produced by the gland, but it’s mostly inactive. Think of it as a stored instruction manual.

T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone, made from T4 in your body’s tissues. It’s like the active instructions your cells can understand and use.

In other words, T4 gets converted to T3 for your body to use, and it’s the one measured in the typical thyroid test.

3. Calcitonin

Another important hormone produced by the thyroid gland is calcitonin. You may guess from its name that it has to do with calcium and bone health, and you won’t be wrong:

  • Calcium Homeostasis (balancing): It lowers blood calcium levels by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, thereby reducing the release of calcium from bones.
  • Bone Health: It promotes bone formation by stimulating osteoblast activity, the cells responsible for bone synthesis.
  • Kidney Function: It reduces calcium reabsorption in the kidneys, leading to increased excretion of calcium in the urine.
  • Phosphate Regulation: It helps in regulating phosphate levels by decreasing phosphate reabsorption in the kidneys, leading to increased phosphate excretion in the urine.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Thyroid?

Drinking alcohol affects your thyroid cells negatively in numerous ways.

1. Impaired Metabolism Regulation

Even moderate alcohol consumption can interfere with the regulation of metabolism by impairing the function of T3 and T4. Alcohol can also raise levels of estrogen hormone in the body, contributing to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Chronic alcohol consumption can make the thyroid condition worse, leading to hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to meet your body’s needs.

This results in a slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, and reduced energy levels.

2. Impaired Growth and Development

In both adults and children, alcohol can hinder growth and development.

In children, alcohol exposure (directly or indirectly) can disrupt the normal functioning of thyroid hormones. This can lead to developmental delays, impaired brain development, and stunted growth.

As for adults, according to a 2002 study, chronic alcohol abuse can contribute to osteoporosis and weakened bones due to disrupted calcium and phosphate homeostasis.

3. Affected Cardiovascular Health

According to a 1997 study and a 2017 study, alcohol negatively impacts cardiovascular health by altering thyroid hormone levels.

Hypothyroidism induced by alcohol can lead to decreased heart rate, reduced cardiac output, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, alcohol can exacerbate high blood pressure and arrhythmias, which are already risks associated with thyroid hormone imbalances.

4. Reduced Protein Synthesis

The synthesis and turnover of proteins are vital for cellular functions.

Alcohol consumption can inhibit protein synthesis by interfering with thyroid hormone activity, leading to muscle wasting, weakness, and delayed recovery from injuries.

Chronic alcohol use also affects liver function, which is crucial for protein metabolism.

5. Reduced Lipid Metabolism

Alcohol can disrupt lipid metabolism by affecting thyroid hormone function, leading to increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Additionally, ethanol found in alcohol can facilitate the transformation of fatty acids to triglycerides, which accumulate in the liver.

This can contribute to the development of fatty liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.

6. Reduced Carbohydrate Metabolism

Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in glucose metabolism. Alcohol can impair liver function, affecting gluconeogenesis (making sugar within the body) and glucose uptake, leading to unstable blood glucose levels.

This can result in hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, posing significant risks, especially for individuals with diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

7. Affected Nervous System

Alcohol negatively affects the nervous system by interfering with thyroid hormone function, leading to cognitive impairments, mood disorders, and mental health issues.

Chronic alcohol use can contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and decreased cognitive function due to disrupted synaptic transmission and neuronal growth.

8. Inhibited Immune System

Chronic consumption of alcohol can have a depressing effect on the immune system. Additionally, alcohol can worsen an already existing condition of autoimmune diseases.

Is Alcohol Effect on the Thyroid Reversible?

Yes, stopping alcohol consumption can reduce thyroid problems and help restore normal thyroid health, leading to a normalization of the basal metabolic rate.

This can result in improved energy levels, weight loss, and reduced fatigue as the thyroid gland begins to produce adequate levels of T3 and T4.

However, if alcohol-induced damage to the thyroid gland is extensive, some individuals may experience long-term hypothyroidism requiring ongoing hormone replacement therapy.


Does Alcohol Cause Thyroid Cancer?

The effects of alcohol on the body are often negative, but causing cancer isn’t one of them. In fact, a study found that alcohol use is associated with lowering the risk of thyroid cancer.

Does Alcohol Cause Goiter?

No, alcohol intake may provide some protection against goiter and diseases of thyroid nodules.

How to Treat an Alcohol-dependent Person?

Alcohol dependence is best handled by a healthcare provider or through a certified Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center.

Become Sober Forever

Get rid of alcohol “or any other addictive substance” in the #1 drug and alcohol rehab center in New Jersey. At Garden State Treatment Center, we tailor our treatment for each individual patient.

In addition to alcohol aid, we offer treatment for opioids, benzos, and kratom. Contact us today or visit us at 350 Sparta Ave Suite A201, Sparta Township, NJ 07871.


Published on: 2024-06-11
Updated on: 2024-06-11

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