The thyroid gland is in our neck and most melanomas are skin cancers.  So is there really a connection between these two things? Let’s take a look at the research on TSH and melanoma.

Melanoma is a relatively rare type of cancer that develops in the pigment-containing cells called melanocytes. Melanomas typically occur in the skin but can also occur in the mouth, intestines or eye. 

TSH and melanoma

In the past 15 years or so, it has also been seen that in some people, there may be a connection with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and melanoma. 

This infographic explains how TSH levels relate to melanoma risk.

Infographic on how thyroid hormones related to melanoma from CALMERme.com

TSH level and thyroid disease

For melanoma, clinicians aim to get TSH down to less than 1mU/L.  To put this in context with what is used for thyroid health, this is lower than most doctors aim for in the general population.  The lab ranges for “normal” TSH in the general population are typically wide, often quoted as 0.5-5 mU/L.  However, the optimal TSH level for the general population is a TSH <2mU.L.   So you can see that the goal of <1mU/L is relatively low.

Not medical advice

These findings are definitely not saying that hypothyroidism causes melanoma. Rather, that in some people, elevated TSH levels may be a growth factor to melanoma cells.  As reducing TSH is relatively easy by giving T4 and/or T3, this may be something to consider if you have elevated TSH and have or have had melanoma. 

Please, do not take this as medical advice. As with all my blog posts, this is general information only. If you think it relates to you and may be worth considering, take this information and discuss it with your doctor and/or oncologist. Don’t try and figure this out for yourself.  

And remember, the biggest cause of all types of skin cancers is UV light exposure, so make sure you protect yourself properly in the sun.  

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