The Connection Between Plastic Water Bottles, The Pill and Your Thyroid

The Connection Between Plastic Water Bottles, The Pill, and Your Thyroid

Suzy Cohen has appeared on TV shows like Good Morning America Health, The Dr. Oz Show, The 700 Club, The View and The Doctors. What an honor for me to be included in Suzy’s Cohen book Thyroid Healthy.

Here is page 52 of Suzy’s must-read book Thyroid Healthy. Get a copy of your lab results and check that you’ve had all these tests done and that your levels are optimal not just normal.

Suzy Cohen's book Thyroid Healthy

Written by Suzy Cohen, America’s Pharmacist

The big lie in conventional medicine is that thyroid disease is easily detected, but the truth is that more than half the people are undiagnosed because of inappropriate testing. There’s a lot of talk about the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test, and how it is relatively useless at detecting thyroid illness. That is getting to be pretty common knowledge these days and more physicians are evaluating your “free T3” instead. This is definitely more indicative of thyroid status, however, even this blood test can fail some women. Momentarily, I will tell you about two other tests that you can have done that will offer more clues to your health status especially if you take oral contraceptives, hormone replacement, eat commercial hormone-laden meats, or drink from plastic water bottles.

Getting tested is critical, especially if you’re a woman. Did you know that thyroid illness is dramatically more common in women? The unfortunate part is that doctors assume symptoms are related to your monthly cycles, menopause, emotional or relationship conflicts at home, or poor eating habits. You are apt to get misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression or psychiatric disorders. In come a slew of potent medications, referrals to psychiatrists, pain specialists, rheumatologists and years of pain and expense… all because you were not taken seriously or tested properly at the outset of diagnosis!

Before I tell you about these important tests, there’s an important connection you need to know about. Drinking from plastic water bottles, or taking “The Pill” can cause hypothyroidism by raising levels of estrogen hormone in your body. The same can be said about menopause drugs which contain the same synthetic estrogen ingredients or commercial cattle that are injected with estrogen hormones to make them heavier at the time of sale. These hormones – no matter how you get them- just so happen to raise your body’s level of estrogen. When you have high estrogen, you have too many transporters, or taxis that can bind up your active thyroid hormone, (making it less available to get inside trillions of cells where it revitalizes you).

The taxi cabs in your bloodstream that I’m talking about are scientifically called “thyroid binding globulin” or TBG. This is the name of a specific transporter that drives your thyroid hormone around and then drops it off at your cells. The high estrogen raises TBG and that lowers your thyroid hormone activity. The simple fix is to drink from glass bottles and use alternative methods to birth control pills.

You have to remember TBG and T4 (thyroxine) are like inseparable buddies in this case.When TBG is high, Free T3 is low and you will have symptoms of hypothyroidism, more specifically you are “thyroid sick.” This is commonly associated with estrogen dominance, or high estrogen from oral contraceptives (or shots/patches) and menopausal medications (Estradiol, Premarin) and even high doses of estrogenic herbs like black cohosh, diadzein, genistein, soy supplements and soy milk.

The more estrogen you take in, the less likely you can break it all down properly. Hypothyroidism or being “thyroid sick” is a risk factor for premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage and poor fetal neurological development so it is very important for you to optimize thyroid function, especially if are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

So What Are These 2 Special Tests?

Since the TSH blood test doesn’t speak to levels of thyroid hormone in your body, what are better tests? There are 2 rarely talked about tests that are simple to take:

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG

Suggested Level: Women < 70 and Men < 30

This is a blood test to evaluate SHBG. What does “sex hormone” have to do with thyroid hormone? A lot, at least in women. It doesn’t correlate well in men though so I wouldn’t track SHBG in men. This biomarker goes up in response to 3 things, estrogen, insulin or thyroid hormone. They correlate directly. If SHBG is low, it means one of three things. You either have:

1. Reduced estrogen

2. High levels of insulin (watch out, diabetes follows next)

3. Low thyroid hormone

The best place to start is to get a hormone level on the estrogen and I’d suggest a 24 hour urine evaluation. Evaluate estrogen levels and replace estrogen until you get a normal level. Then retake the SHBG blood test. If it’s still low, that means you’re low in thyroid hormone. If you take thyroid hormone and SHBG doesn’t go up, it proves you are ‘thyroid sick.’

The reference range differs but for our purposes, when I say “low” SHBG I mean less than 70 for a woman, and less than 30 for a man indicates you have either low estrogen or low thyroid (or possibly both). You could benefit from straight T3 medicines (as opposed to straight T4 drugs, or NDT drugs). Taking thyroid will definitely help to bring down SHBG, but reducing insulin will be better for you. Using natural supplements such as quercetin, resveratrol and other nutrients.

Thyroid Binding Globulin or TBG

Suggested Level: 13 – 39 μg/ml

This is a blood test to evaluate how many taxis you have in your blood stream. Oral contraceptives (The Pill) increase your TBG that’s why you feel worse if you take those pills or patches/shots. Some of you may benefit from progesterone medication or creams. I’d prefer that you get a bio-identical form of hormones from your doctor rather than buying the cream at a health food store.Most women do better on the oral “micronized” progesterone pills, than the transdermal ones, however this is very individual. Transdermal is okay with me, so long as it’s bio-identical.

What Can You Do Right Now?

You are not helpless, there are simple things you can do to get well, and reduce levels of estrogen in your body while also improving thyroid hormone levels. Here are my ideas to help you get back on track:

1. Switch out your water bottles for glass bottles.

2. Order grass-fed, organic free-range meats as often as possible.

3. Snag a copy of my book Thyroid Healthy because it offers 300 pages of mind-blowing information that no one else is willing to tell you.

4. Find an alternate form of contraception because “The Pill” raises TBG

5. Consider T3 thyroid drugs or natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) instead of pure T4 Levothyroxine drugs.

Most of all, don’t resign yourself to “this is just my life” or “my doctor is really nice so I’m going to follow this plan” when you are simply miserable and tired all the time. You are in control of your life, and your body. It’s up to you to be your own health advocate and fight for yourself! You are just one of several hundreds of patients to your physician, but you are special to your kids and spouse and you need to think about what’s best for yourself. Never resign yourself to symptoms that leave you feeling less than healthy, sexy and energetic. I honestly believe that no matter how hard it has been for you, you can make a new choice and lose weight, look beautiful and live the life you imagine!

About Suzy Cohen

America’s Pharmacist Suzy Cohen has been a health writer for over 15 years and has dedicated her life to researching an immense variety of health topics. Her syndicated column, Dear Pharmacist, reaches millions of readers each week and you may have also seen her blogs on The Huffington Post. She has spoken on programs such as Good Morning America Health, The Dr. Oz Show, The 700 Club, The View and The Doctors.

Suzy’s books have been featured in hundreds of magazines and interviews, and have helped millions of individuals around the world understand complicated health issues. Her books Thyroid Healthy and Headache Free (do you know chronic headaches may be a red flag your thyroid is not optimally treated) are included in Hypothyroid Mom’s Favorite Thyroid Books (because they are EXCELLENT).

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About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. *Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links. Connect with me on Google+


  1. I am hypothyroid and need help with hairloss and balding. Anything I can take or use to stop this.


    • Hi Jenny, Hair loss is sadly a very common problem for people with hypothyroidism. I’ll share with you the testing and treatment that worked for me. Of course we’re all different but here are things to consider. First and foremost to hair issues is getting your thyroid optimally treated. If you are on a T4 only Levothyroxine drug like Synthroid that may be the issue. Many of us do better on a combination of T4 and T3 treatment. Here’s more on this:

      I had a period of hair loss that coincided with an extremely stressful time in my life and at a time when my perimenopause symptoms at age 44 became more obvious with changes in my menstrual cycles, so testing and treating your adrenals and sex hormones (include testosterone even for women) is important. Also low iron is another major culprit for hair loss so be sure a full iron panel is done including ferritin. Also nutrients such as zinc are essential and should be tested.

      There are two supplements that have also made a difference in my hair health. Here are the two supplements that I take specifically for my hair that work for me: Biotin and Evening Primrose Oil

  2. Maureen Wagner says:

    I knew it wasn’t something as simple as taking levothyroxine….I have been hypothyroid for over 20 years with levels from 75 mcg to 250! And when I am feeling my absolute worst and have blood work done that says everything is normal, I feel like my complaints are totally dismissed by the doctor because my blood work (or whatever limited blood work they are ordering) did not come back indicating so. Very frustrating!



    • Emily Kirkland says:

      Hun your not the only one….The doctors talk to us like we don’t know our own bodies….The doctor I had tried to tell me before I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism that That wasn’t the problem, and that it had to be something else making me feel the way I do….I’ve had Hypothyroidism my whole life and My husband was the one that took me to the doctor. I have been so frustrated with weight gain and all the other symptoms to come along with it…..

  3. Thyca survivor says:

    You talk about what happens when you have low SHBG, but I have just the opposite problem. After losing my thyroid, mine went up and up (SHBG). Because my mom died of estrogen based breast cancer, my DO took this seriously once I hit 140 on my SHBG. I am on a NDT, and a arsenal of supplements (to address adrenals, and vitamin deficiencies). I am also now on progesterone (oral bio-identical), and also a compounded progesterone/testosterone cream. Although better, I am still struggling with weight and fatigue. I work out religiously with a trainer and eat healthy, but still struggle losing weight. What would you suggest?

  4. So if drinking out of plastic water bottles is out…does that include the large Ozarka bottles/dispensers? May seem like a dumb question but we go through a lot of water in our home and tap water really isn’t an option and aren’t the glass bottles expensive?

    • Emily Kirkland says:

      Hey, I was reading your comment and was wondering why is Plastic water bottles bad? Is it bad for people with Hypothyroidism? Because All I drink is bottled water….My tap water is terrible

      • Drinking from plastic bottles is bad for everybody, not just for people with hypothyroidism. The plastic contaminates the water by antimony, a chemical used in the making of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles which is being slowly released into it – the more the longer the water is in the bottle. If you don’t trust your tap water, you may have it individually tested and demand a correction from your water provider if there’s something wrong with it. If you just don’t like its taste, but it’s otherwise healthy, I would demand them to improve its taste. There’s no reason why you should be forced to waste your money and health on buying bottled water. Think of the environment as well – while tap water travels through pipes without doing any damage to it, bottled water needs to transported on trucks that release CO2. Furthermore production and use of plastic is bad for environment as well. But you can change all that by using your tap water.

  5. I have always wondered about the pill. I never took it until 38 y/o when I was having difficulty with periods. Over a year I had two different prescriptions and they did absolutely nothing for regulating cycle, easing cramps, etc. They did cause some serious issues with breast tissue where a surgeon said ‘stop the pill and the issues will disappear’ – he was absolutely correct. However, at that point I started gaining weight and had many unexplained health issues. Now two autoimmune illnesses. I often brought up the pill as the turning point and was always told it had nothing to do with it and that I was just aging. Appreciate this information.

  6. Karissa says:

    I was wondering if it would still be the best to take birth control if you have other conditions like PCOS, and a Hypothyroid issue. When I found out I had PCOS, my doctor immediately put me on a birth control pill in hopes it would make my cycle regular again due to consistently for 6 months not having it. Luckily it has been working a lot better than not being on anything. Is there anything I should ask my doctor to see if there is a better solution for this for me?

    Thanks much, Karissa.

    • Hi all,
      I started having thyroid issues the moment I started BCPs. After I stopped the pill it hit me even worse, body ache, fatigue etc. I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease and after a few months now they told me I’m having an early menopause at 27. I don’t know if these two are related but I am extremely tired and down all the time…

  7. Kristen Wirth says:

    I would love to read this book I also have PCOS and a Thyroid problem!!

  8. Comma splice; among, not between.

  9. virginia says:

    What about soft drinks & juice in plastic bottles, are they bad for you also?

  10. Emily Kirkland says:

    I am getting very frustrated with my weight fluctuating…Does anyone know of special exercise and diets that will work??? I drink Nothing but Bottled water….my tap water is terrible and I’m reading certain comments that say it’s bad to drink out of plastic water bottles…

  11. I was wondering about plastic bottles myself. We don’t drink tap water either and glass bottles are very expensive (can’t imagine purchasing an entire case of them). I do know that if the plastic isn’t BFA free, you are ingesting chemicals but, who makes a BFA free disposable plastic bottle? I was ordering bottled water for my water cooler in the past, and we had the option of purchasing BFA free 5 gallon bottles for the cooler (this was through Water Boy). I live in Florida and don’t know if this company is everywhere in the USA. It became quite expensive to do this so we stopped, and it’s made me crazy to think about it ever since – but what can I do?

    I am also wondering about the PCOS connection with hypothyroidism as well as adrenal issues – there does seem to be an overlap between them. I had a hysterectomy in 2008 and around that time, was diagnosed with a small goiter of the thyroid. I was given natural thyroid replacement for one year, and the goiter disappeared but, subsequent visits to many endocrinologists revealed that I didn’t have ANY thyroid issues at all, but I NEVER felt well, was gaining weight like crazy and my hair was falling out by the handful all over my body – my eyebrows fell out as well. None of my physicians (and there we many of them) used correct levels to measure my thyroid levels(they would only use the old standard) and told me that it was all in my head. Hair loss that severe is not in your head – especially when your hair is on the floor daily!!!!! One endocrinologist did say that my levels were very low but borderline. So he put me on meds (natural porcine thyroid with T3 and T4) and for a time I did feel better however, I gained 40 lbs. So, I went off the meds and became totally gluten free. I’ve now lost 25 lbs. and continue to los but, I still get horrid migraine headaches. Could you speak about the gluten connection, weight gain and your thyroid? That would be beneficial to those of us who are not celiac but, have severe gluten intolerance. Thank You!

  12. Hi I Have been diagnosted with hypothyroidmom so The doctor said he would opérate and take my thyroid out. I would like moré information in what soul de I do.

  13. I found out that I had hypothyroidism before ever taking the pill so I know that it never caused my problems. Just wondering if nuva ring has any affect because that’s what I’m on now.

  14. Becky Gilbert says:

    I only have one kidney and one adrenal gland is that the reason I’m hypo? I found this out when I had a ultrasound during my pregnancy.

    • I’m sorry to hear that Becky. There is a close connection between the thyroid and adrenal glands and often times when one is off the other is too so that absolutely should be looked at more closely. I personally have adrenal fatigue in addition to my hypothyroidism and treatment with adaptogenic herbs for adrenals including Ashwagandha have been helpful for me.

  15. I had severe symptoms including one no doctor knows what caused it. Mine started with at night just when I would go to doze off my body would jerk and an adrenaline surge would happen at the same time. Sometimes my muscles would role and even an arm would fly up or my head would jerk. Needless to say I could not sleep. Then came panic attacks depression and even some paranoia! I was in complete despair and hopelessness! All the while my blood work was normal. When my doctor gave up on me because of normal blood work and wanted to send me to a phsyc ward. I got mad! Finally after 3 months another doctor did an ultrasound on my thyroid and found a goiter with nodules and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto Disease. That was almost 4 years ago now I treat myself with both T-3 and T-4. And I am back to myself? I own my own business and am in sales so I have to be at my best! Luckily when I was going through this I had a great support system in my Husband! My advice to everyone is to not give up! Most Doctors don’t want to see outside the box! Good luck everyone!

  16. hi,

    I am have been on the pill for 2 years. I haven’t had many issues until the past few months which landed me in the dr twice in a week with an xray and ct scan of the chest. They found a large nodule (size of a walnut) on my thyroid. I have suspected thyroid issues for years and have had myraid of symtpoms throughout but was always in the normal testing range for thyroid levels. I am nervous about what the nodule is, but is it possible the nodule could have developed due to the pill? I have family history of thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism. I know this may be the time my thyroid takes center stage and want to get the best treatment available but I am lost and clueless on what to do and where to begin as well as what questions to ask.


  1. […] June 2014 America’s Pharmacist Suzy Cohen and Dr. David Brownstein hosted a free online event called The Thyroid Summit. They interviewed 32 […]

  2. […] Among other things, I learned that I shouldn’t drink green tea (I had figured out it was giving me migraines, but didn’t know why).  I learned that I might have a sensitivity to l-glutamine, a critical insight since that is an amino acid that is often prescribed for helping to heal the gut.  I also learned about several mutations that, together, were affecting my body’s ability to detoxify.  I started some additional supplements (such as Vitamin C) to help address the problems in those methylation cycles.  I am now waiting for test results to understand more about the levels of certain toxins in my body, such as mercury from having fillings removed, arsenic in rice, or BPA from water bottles. […]

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