Change Happens!

by Drs. Richard & Karilee Shames

It's a red letter day for the thyroid-challenged!

It all started when Dr. Rich Shames was reviewing his patients' lab reports again. He noticed there was one from Hunter Laboratory, not far from us here in Northern California. Their lab report showed a patient's TSH level as 3.4, and this was considered to be in the abnormal range!

It turns out that their new "range of normal" was .25 - 2.5, narrowed even further from the position of the AACE several years ago.

It's the first time we've seen this, and it bodes well for those millions who have yet to be diagnosed.

Now, aware consumers like you might be in a better position to convince their doctors that they are not normal, that they do have a thyroid problem, even based on the "gold standard" TSH test.

Why is this happening now? Why didn't it happen more quickly when AACE changed their standards for range of normal in TSH testing? We suspect some of this may have to do with the growing vocal consumer movement, people like you who follow Mary Shomon's work, or those in the Canary Club who are becoming more aware of their potential to change the way medicine is practiced.


Is change in medicine quick? Hardly ever, except for those rare occasions when pharmaceuticals are rapidly removed due to related deaths and/or very negative results in highly publicized research studies. Change seems to happen very slowly in medicine due to vested interests on the part of practitioners, insurance companies, some laboratories, and mostly pharmaceutical interests.

Remember that standards for medical practice are evaluated by how things are done in your community. So it obviously behooves health consumers to become louder, join forces, and demand that those who are struggling with underactive thyroid glands receive the care and support they need.

We called the good folks over at Hunter Labs to inquire as to how they made this decision to narrow TSH range of normal. Basically, they say they were responding to pressure from practitioners to narrow this range appropriately. We suspect there's more to this story, and will keep you posted if we find out more.

What's good news is that at least ONE lab is listening to its practitioner base and responding appropriately. This means that as you discuss your views with your practitioners, eventually your thoughts are transmitted to those who make decisions, and eventually change happens.

YOU ARE THE AGENT FOR CHANGE. Now you are in a better position to advocate for those in your family, your friends, and others who have been undiagnosed and undertreated despite having multiple thyroid symptoms. You can begin to lobby other labs to consider narrowing their range of normal for TSH, following the lead of the innovative Hunter Labs.

Remember to always ask for your numbers, not just whether you fall into their range of normal or not. Be sure to then ask for their range of normal - if it's too broad (more than 0.3 - 3.0 and especially if it's under the older values of 0.5 - 5.0) question them on why they continue to use outdated values for TSH and encourage them to consider re-evaluating their normal range so that millions more won't have to suffer needlessly. Together, we can make a difference.

Keep up the good work! Karilee & Richard Shames

Richard Shames MD is a Harvard/University of Penn graduate, in private practice for 30 years in northern CA. He is currently also providing telephone consultation for thyroid, adrenal, and sex gland imbalance.

Karilee Shames provides counseling in the office with Dr. Rich. Together they have written numerous health books including FEELING FAT, FUZZY OR FRAZZLED? and THYROID POWER. For more info or for thyroid coaching go to ThyroidPower.com website.

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.