California researchers suggests a dramatic increase in thyroid cancer in recent decades is likely tied to environment and behavior.
Christina Clarke with the Institute says better detection of cancer alone cannot account for the increase.
“We saw about on average of 5 to 6 percent annual increase in both men and women," says Clarke. "So it’s fast – it’s really concerning.”
Genetics is not the cause either. Clarke says more research is needed to understand if diet, exercise or exposures are drivers of epidemic.
“The basic patterns here of understanding who’s getting it and why are important to prevention," says Clarke. "Because they really do suggest that there’s something new in our environment or in what we’re doing that is causing this cancer, and if we could just figure it out, we can stop it.”
The Institute says the rate of thyroid cancer in women doubled between 1990 and 2005. It is now the 5th most common cancer in women.