In 1998 I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. After my diagnosis, I built and maintained a message board with over 900 members called Widebertha’s Message Board. The name Widebertha was very appropriate at that time in my life. The main goal of the message board was to inform people about the perils of radioactive iodine. The powers that be did not approve of my message and often let me know in no uncertain terms. I remember one lengthy email in particular written by a doctor from Australia. He berated me for my negative opinion on radioactive iodine. Having never endured the side effects of this treatment, I felt that he had no business berating me for my opinion on the use of radioactive iodine to treat Graves’ disease.
After doing some research on treatments for Graves’s disease I came across an article written by Dr. Sun Y. Lee and published in the American Thyroid Association papers in 2019. The article started off by stating the following: “Quality of life is worse at 6-10 years after radioactive iodine therapy of Graves’ disease compared with treatment with anti thyroid drugs.” I did a double-take after reading this. I am a prime example of what can happen to a person after drinking radioactive iodine. The article went on to read and I quote, “Overall, patients with treated Graves’ disease had worse thyroid-related quality of life scores than the general population. Among the three treatment groups, patients who received radioactive iodine therapy had worse thyroid-specific quality of life scores than patients treated with anti thyroid drugs or surgery, as measured by ThyPRO. The radioactive iodine therapy group had worse scores for goiter symptoms, hyperthyroid symptoms, tiredness, anxiety, depression, emotional susceptibility, impaired social life, impaired daily life, and impaired sex life than the anti thyroid drug and surgery groups. In addition, the radioactive iodine therapy group had worse scores in hypothyroid symptoms, eye symptoms, and appearance than the anti thyroid drug group. A similar pattern was found in general quality of life measures as assessed with the SF-36 questionnaire, with worse scores in the radioactive iodine therapy group compared to the anti thyroid drug or surgery groups.”
Dr. Lee went on to write and I quote, “If these findings are confirmed in other studies in other countries, it would suggest that radioactive iodine therapy may be less desirable in the long term as compared to anti thyroid drugs or surgery.”
If only I had been able to talk to a doctor like Sun Y. Lee before I drank the poison called radioactive iodine. As I have mentioned before I had huge doubts about drinking a poison called radioactive iodine. Had I been able to discuss my concerns with a doctor like Dr. Lee I would never have agreed to drink the poison.
If you have been diagnosed with Graves’ disease please think about your options very carefully. My gut feeling at the time was that I should absolutely refuse radioactive iodine. However, I was made to look like a fool and proceeded to drink the poison. Again, think very very carefully before ingesting radioactive iodine.