In contrast to other cancers, the incidence of thyroid cancer is relatively high already before the age of fourty years. After the age of fifty years, the incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer levels off among women and continues to increase among men. Thyroid cancer seems to be one of the few cancers where genetic factors account for a larger fraction than environmental factors. Approximately 20% of medullary thyroid cancers are attributed to MEN 2A/B or familial medullary thyroid cancer. The only established environmental cause is ionizing radiation. There are indications that diet, alcohol, reproductive factors, deficiency or excess of iodine, and changes in height and weight are causally related to the risk of thyroid cancer, but data are not consistent.
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