Oprah Winfrey on Thyroid Disease

"I Blew Out My Thyroid" Says the Daytime Diva

Oprah Winfrey Thyroid Problem

She's a billionaire daytime diva, a magazine mogul, a radio entrepreneur, an international philanthropist, and now, a thyroid patient. In 2007, on Good Morning America, talk show maven Oprah Winfrey told ABC's Robin Roberts that she "blew out her thyroid" at the end of last season, due to stress.

Oprah didn't elaborate further on her admission, but this revelation of a thyroid problem is major news for the thyroid patients of America, and frankly, the world.

Some experts estimate that as many as 59 million Americans have thyroid conditions. Most are women, and most are undiagnosed. Oprah, at 53, is at the age when thyroid problems become increasingly common, and yet are frequently overlooked entirely, or misdiagnosed as perimenopause or menopause.

In my article Why Isn't Thyroid Disease Front Page News? I asked the question: "What would likely bring thyroid disease into the spotlight?"

And here we have our answer. Oprah, a woman frequently referred to as "the most influential woman in the world," has publicly acknowledged having some sort of thyroid problem, like millions of woman across America, and many millions more who do not yet realize they have the condition and haven't been diagnosed.

This situation presents a unique opportunity for Oprah, not to mention women everywhere -- and is unprecedented in the history of thyroid disease. If Oprah turns the powerful lens of her media empire -- television program, radio shows, web site and magazine -- toward even a small amount of coverage of thyroid disease, thyroid awareness in the U.S. and around the world could be vastly increased.

I would never wish a thyroid condition on anyone. Yet, in my own case, my own thyroid disease did lead me to discover that one of my life's missions is to serve as a voice for other thyroid patients, and to advocate for better awareness and treatment of thyroid patients.

Should Oprah's thyroid concerns ultimately lead her to launch even a small effort to raise thyroid disease awareness, she holds in her hands the precious opportunity to have a profound and lasting effect on the health of generations of women.

Will there be an "Oprah effect" on thyroid disease awareness and treatment? I know I speak for most of us when I say that I hope there will be.

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