Stars share their challenges and triumphs

A number of celebrities both in the arts and political arena have thyroid conditions. How they came to be diagnosed and treated can be a useful lesson for anyone faced with a thyroid problem, providing insights into treatment options and the common challenges to be faced.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton
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Former U.S. Secretary of State, Senator, 2016 presidential candidate, and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton released her medical records in July 2015 indicating that she was being treated for hypothyroidism.

Interestingly, Clinton’s report revealed that her doctor hadn’t prescribed levothyroxine, the recommended treatment for hypothyroidism, but instead used a natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) called Armour Thyroid.

Armour Thyroid is an oral preparation that includes dried T4 and T3hormones derived from cows or pigs. While used for generations for the treatment of hypothyroid disease, NDT is not considered the standard of care.

Despite that the fact the controversial 2014 Hypothyroidism Guidelines insist that NDT drugs should not be used in place of levothyroxine, a growing number of endocrinologists are prescribing Armour Thyroid and other NDT alternatives with apparent success.

Oprah Winfrey

'Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show And American Culture' Opening Reception
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America’s media mogul Oprah Winfrey announced in 2007 that she had hypothyroidism. Winfrey discussed her thyroid problem in her magazine O and on her television program, generating a great deal of controversy based on the metaphysical, non-medical approach she followed and endorsed.

The ways in which Winfrey described her condition, eventually declaring she was “free” of thyroid problems, were somewhat perplexing. Many people with thyroid conditions had hoped that she would better educate the public about the disease and the standard approaches to care.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Portrait of Bernie Sanders Talking
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Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, released his medical records in January of 2016. According to his physician, Sanders was in “very good health” and was actively being treated for hypothyroidism.

Sen. Sanders’ medical report indicated that he is being treated with levothyroxine, the synthetic thyroid hormone most commonly prescribed for hormone replacement therapy.

Gina Rodriguez

Gina Rodriguez
Mark Davis/Getty Images

Gina Rodriguez, star of TV’s “Jane the Virgin,” was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 19. Ten years later, Rodriquez discovered that the cause of her condition was Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland and the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.

With Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system begins to produce antibodies that attack your thyroid gland. The gland may enlarge or shrink, both of which can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. As with other autoimmune disorders, Hashimoto’s is more common in women than men.

Among the other stars diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:

  • Kim Cattrall of TV’s “Sex and the City” was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 1998.
  • Kim Alexis, a former supermodel, also has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism. She had symptoms for 10 years before she was finally diagnosed. A healthy diet and exercise helped Alexis get rid of the weight she gained after she became hypothyroid.
  • Gena Lee Nolin, star of the hit TV series “Baywatch,” experienced fatigue and weight gain in each of her pregnancies and was told she simply had post-partum depression. Nolin was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism in 2008. She publicly announced her commitment to raising thyroid disease awareness in 2011.

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