Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Goiter

Abnormal enlargement of the thyroid glands due to a goitrogen. Some soils are iodine-poor but iodine is generally plentiful in many ecosystems. In iodine-poor environments, people often trade for sea salt; iodine is plentiful in the sea and thus abundant in many seafoods and sea salt. Goiterogenic thiocarbamides (thiocyanate compounds) can be produced by digesting vegetables from the cabbage group (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale) and, because they inhibit iodine metabolism, can induce the formation of goiter; these compounds cannot be detected by PTC nontasters. Iodine is critical to the synthesis of a molecule which provides a negative feedback shunt to the hypothalamus; in its absence, the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid pathway remains open, resulting in thyroid hyperplasia. Aka goitre.

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