The Thyroid Shield Controversy, Courtesy of the "Dr. Oz Show"

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion in the news media about thyroid cancer and increased radiation risks to women – specifically about how the use of thyroid shields during mammograms may or may not be useful in protecting against excess radiation exposure. This is all due to a recent episode of the Dr. Oz Show that linked an increase in thyroid cancer to imaging and biopsy procedures. After the show aired, women began requesting thyroid shields during their exams. The public outcry has reached the point that the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging have issued a joint statement to try to overcome fears of high radiation risk from mammography.

As evidence that the controversy continues, Dr. Oz just aired another episode, countering the arguments of experts that have surfaced in response to the first episode.

Here at UCSF, we have noticed an increase in requests for thyroid shields from our patients. But because the radiation dose from mammography is very small, we do not recommend thyroid shielding as it can interfere with getting a good exam.