Chantix &Thyroid: Is There a Connection?

Does Smoking, Quitting Smoking, or Chantix throw you into Thyroid Problems?

Smoke free 205 Days!

As a lot of you know that follow my blog regularly, I had a comment by Joan that her and her twin sister had major side effects with Chantx involving their Thyroid. That prompted me to have mine checked. I went to the Doctor and had the blood work done and everything else checked while I was there. The nurse called yesterday with the results. I have HYPOTHYROIDISM and have to take a medication called Synthroid for the rest of my life! Don’t you think that is quite a coincidence? Well, I sure do. Actually, what are the odds that someone on the internet tells me about this new side effect of Chantix that I had not heard “scary stories” about and it turns out I have it too. Very strange in deed. So I decided to check this out for myself and here is what I have found out.

Does smoking cigarettes increase the odds of getting Hypothyroidism? That was my first question. Yes it does.

Smoking and Thyroid Diseases: The Connection

Smoking has been found to be one of the prominent causes of hypothyroidism and it has also been clear that smoke contains harmful ingredients that retard the functioning process of the thyroid gland. Many substances present in smoke trigger off anti-thyroid action inside the system and one among them is cyanide. On smoking cigarettes and other tobacco containing products, the ingredient cyanide enters the system and forms a specific compound thiocyanate.This new substance thiocyanate significantly prevents iodine intake and ensures the low production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism).

However, clinical studies have established that smokers are more prone to have thyroid enlargement which could be an indication of thyroid disturbance. Further, it has also been found that grave’s disease (thyroid eye disease) which is specifically responsible for hyperthyroidism can be triggered off on account of smoking. An article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association which makes it clear that people who are addicted to smoking are twice more likely to develop grave disease in comparison to non-smokers.

In a study involving women in Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, it was found that smoking impairs both thyroid hormone secretion and thyroid hormone action, according to Beat Mueller, M.D., et al., in the October 12, 1995 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Before I go blaming Chantix, there is a connection between Hypothyroid and smokers. Smoking is directly related to Hypothyroid so how can anyone say Chantix did this to me when it could have been building over many years and smoking has masked it. We all know smoking and nicotine increase your metabolism so the weight gain doesn’t show up as a symptom. Then we quit smoking and Pow! We get this weight gain that cannot be removed by diet and exercise, and we are fatiqued, almost lethargic when we quit because we all know nicotine is an upper/stimulant. So we are diagnosed with Hypothyroid and we want to blame somebody and Chantix is right there. They do have the warning that rarely it can cause the problem so we know that is a possibility, but not very likely. I would tend to believe that this is another thing that smoking has caused, just like osteoporosis, and I just have to learn to live with it.

How to Tell If You Are Hypothyroid

Here’s how you can determine if you have an underactive thyroid condition called hypothyroidism.

Difficulty Level: Easy Time Required: 5 minutes

Here’s How:

1. List your risk factors, including: family history, previous treated/untreated problems (nodules, hyperthyroidism, goiter, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer), previous thyroid surgery, another autoimmune disease, childbirth.
2. Note symptoms including:

  • weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, fatigue, hoarseness, high cholesterol, constipation, feeling cold, hair loss, dry skin, low sex drive, tingling hands/feet, irregular periods, infertility.
  • 3. Note related conditions, including: recurrent pregnancy loss, resistant high cholesterol, difficult menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, mitral valve prolapse.
    4. Meet with your doctor for a thyroid examination and blood test.
    5. Request a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test, along with T4, T3, Free T4 and Free T3 tests.
    6. Review your test results with the doctor.
    7. At most labs in the U.S., up until late 2002, the normal range is from around 0.5 to 5.5. That range changed to .3 to 3 as of early 2003. If the TSH level is at the higher end of the range, or above the range, your doctor may determine that you are hypothyroid (underactive thyroid.)
    8. If your doctor ran a test called Total T4 or Total Thyroxine, normal range is approximately 4.5 to 12.5. If you had a low reading, and a high TSH, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
    9. If your doctor ran a test called Total T4 or Total Thyroxine, normal range is approximately 4.5 to 12.5. If you had a low reading, and a low TSH, your doctor might look into a possible pituitary problem.
    10. If your doctor ran a test called Free T4, or Free Thyroxine, normal range is approximately 0.7 to 2.0. If your result was less than 0.7, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
    11. If your doctor ran a test called Total T3, normal range is approximately 80 to 220. If your result was less than 80, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
    12. If your doctor ran a test called Free T3, the normal range is approximately 2.3 to 4.2. If your result was less than 2.3, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
    13. If your test results come back “normal” but you have many of the symptoms or risk factors for thyroid disease, make sure you ask for an antibodies test. Some doctors believe in treating thyroid symptoms in the presence of elevated antibodies and normal TSH levels.
    14. If your test results come back “normal” but you have many of the symptoms or risk factors for thyroid disease, consider going to a reputable holistic M.D. or alternative physician for further interpretation and diagnosis.


    1. Many people who have radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism/Graves’ Disease, or who have sugery to remove all or part of the thyroid due to nodules or cancer, are hypothyroid.
    2. If you have been treated with radioactive iodine or surgery, and are currently not on thyroid hormone replacement, but have hypothyroidism symptoms, see your doctor.
    3. Keep in mind that laboratory normal values vary somewhat from lab to lab. Make sure you find out your lab’s normal ranges and review these with your doctor.



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    8 Responses to “Chantix &Thyroid: Is There a Connection?”

    1. icarecafe Says:

      the icarecafe would really like your help with a discussion on Hypothyroidism

      Dear Friends

      As you many know the icarecafe has been set up to provide a space for patients, carers and their supporters online.

      Some of the members have set up a discussion group on the subject of Hypothyroidism. The group has asked lots of questions which are still in the process of being answered. So we thought it appropriate if we invited people from other Hypothyroidism discussion groups and blogs to ask if they wished to participate.

      To have a look at the discussions so far please have a look at

      Please do feel free to join in the discussions and to post any information which might be of interest to our members. To do so you will have to join the icarecafe.

      If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. I’m one of the moderators of the icarecafe and I can be contacted by sending and internal email to my profile.

      Thanks very much in advance for your help!

      Best wishes
      Belinda Shale
      Moderator – the icarecafe

    2. Dawn Says:

      My mom smoked for over 50 years. Last year thyroid was fine. Started Chantix end of last year. Not feeling well, went to dr. Thyroid has ceased working. DUH! Its Chantix, not the smoking.

    3. pam Says:

      had all the blood work and no probs jan 07 and started chanix. now my tsh is over 96. It did damage for sure!

    4. Trina Says:

      I took Chantix for only 1 month, had a lot of memory problems, so I stopped taking it, I just had my physical my tsh is 98…..I am also thinking it was the Chantix I have not had a problem prior to, but regardless, I too, now am on medication for the rest of my life for it. 😦

    5. Kaye Pratt Says:

      I went on chantix last august and took it for at least 10 weeks and I started putting on weight regardless of my efforts to derail it, so I went to my Dr in December and they did the blood test and said it felt enlarged, well my blood test came back and I am Hyperthyroid now and on meds, but still gaining weight even tho they say the levels are coming up nicely, I think Chantix was the root of all this 😦

    6. Anonymous Says:

      Same here, my husband never had thyroid problems, has always been super skinny. Took CHantix, gained serious weight, went to doc, thyroid completely stopped working. DEFINITELY THE CHANTIX!!

    7. Tiffny Brock Says:

      I was going to the gym 3 and 4 days a week and getting fit. To quit smoking was the obvious next step. Chantix and 1-800-no-butts got me to stop smoking but……I grew so tired and couldn’t get out of bed, The leg pain I was experiencing was excruciating.I developed a horrible rash. My physician FINALLY diagnosed me a year later with hypothyroidism. She put me on 100mg Levothyroxin which sent me into hyperthyroidism.She knocked me down to 50mg and that has been much better but I’m no where near where I was before Chantix.I’m fat. I’m tired.The skin on my legs is red and itchy, people stare in horror at them and now my hair is falling out.Oh, did I mention my eyesight is going? I KNOW Chantix is the cause. Quitting smoking was supposed to be my gift to myself. I only took Chantix for a month and a half.

    8. Vicki Says:

      When I was 16 my doctor found one 7mm nodule on my thyroid. When I was 19 I started smoking. At age 26 I quit smoking for 8 months without medication, but picked it back up and smoked for the next 4 years. My thyroid never caused me any discomfort and the nodule never grew. Now I’m 30. I started taking Chantix early May 2012 and quit smoking May 28th 2012. I have always loved singing, and while I don’t sing professionally by any stretch of the imagination, my voice is VERY important to me. At the end of June I went to a theme park and the next day my voice started acting super weird. I had random bouts of laryngitis. At the time, I thought I had lost my voice from screaming while on the roller coasters, but now I’m not so sure. In mid-July my mother-in-law commented on the visually noticeable size change of my thyroid gland, I experienced an all-over-body rash, felt super lethagic, and felt as if something was squeazing my throat. I quit taking Chantix that week. It is now September and have seen an endocrinologist. My bloodwork says I’m perfectly healthy, but my “7mm nodule” thyroid has now FIVE NODULES!!!! All of them at least 1cm in diameter, the largest is 2.5cm!!!! My doctor wants to remove the entire thyroid gland and put me on meds for the rest of my life. He doesn’t want to even do a biopsy! So is it from quitting smoking(if so why didn’t it occur the first time I quit?), taking Chantix, or possibly a combination of the two? Also, should I get a second opinion, or is my fight to keep my thyroid a lost cause?

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