Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, together with Thyroid Federation International (TFI) announced the International Thyroid Awareness Week, which will run from May 25 to 31, 2014. For the 6th consecutive year, Merck Serono and TFI join forces to launch the international awareness campaign this year entitled HIGH FIVE! - FIVE REASONS TO BE AWARE OF THYROID DISEASE. Five conditions associated with thyroid dysfunction will be the center of attention: thyroid cancer, autoimmunity, infertility, anxiety & depression, and iodine deficiency.
"Merck Serono is pleased to be part of the International Thyroid Awareness week. This initiative is an established and highly regarded global awareness campaign which is endorsed by the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the European Thyroid Association (ETA), the Latin American Thyroid Society (LATS) and the Chinese Society of Endocrinology (CSE)," said Meeta Gulyani, Head of Strategy and Global Franchises at Merck's biopharmaceutical division Merck Serono. Since the start of the 1st International Thyroid Awareness Week in 2009, the campaign has attracted increasing attention. Today its website (http://www.thyroidweek.com) is available in 11 languages.
Ashok Bhaseen, President of Thyroid Federation International added, "One never realizes how important the thyroid is unless it causes problems, and when it does, the impact is widespread, affecting many organs and systems. Globally, an estimated 1.6 billion people are at risk of thyroid disease and up to 60% of them could be unaware of it."
Left untreated, thyroid disorders can cause serious health problems such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis, as well as infertility, mood disorders and cognitive impairment. This year's campaign provides information on how to take care of the thyroid with respect to the following five conditions:
Thyroid cancer: Thyroid cancer often develops in lumps or nodules. A self-exam called "Thyroid Neck Check" can help to detect nodules early. Fortunately statistics show that only one in every ten nodules harbors cancer cells. Thyroid cancer, especially if detected early, has an excellent recovery rate.
Autoimmunity: The thyroid gland itself can become the target of an aberrant immune system and develop autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Graves' disease. Treatment of both of these disorders requires life-long medication.,
Infertility: Thyroid dysfunction is an often over-looked cause of infertility. If women who plan to start a family don't realize the failure of their thyroid gland, they risk miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe problems in the development of their children. A normally functioning thyroid gland is essential to both men and women; thyroid hormones influence sperm production, ovulation, implantation and maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. Treatment of the thyroid disorder can restore fertility, provided thyroid failure was the only cause of infertility.
Anxiety/depression: Modern imaging techniques suggest a link between hypo/hyperthyroidism and mood disorders, however relation between both is not fully understood. Hypothyroid individuals have a tendency to show signs of depression and cognitive impairment, whereas hyperthyroidism is more closely linked to forms of anxiety and depression. New mothers are especially vulnerable to postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) and postpartum depression. Luckily, anxiety and depression that accompany thyroid dysfunction are reversible in most cases by treating the thyroid dysfunction.
Iodine deficiency: Iodine is a critical nutrient for a healthy thyroid at all stages of life. It plays an important role in festal and infant development and thyroid hormone production. An examination by a physician is the best way to find out whether the iodine supply is correct.
 American Thyroid Association. General Information. 2014 http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/ Accessed February 2014
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National Cancer Institute. SEER Stat Facts: Cancer of the Thyroid
http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/thyro.html Accessed February 2014
 Chronic thyroiditis (Hashimoto's disease) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000371.htm Accessed January 2014
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 American Thyroid Association. Postpartum thyroiditis. 2012 http://www.thyroid.org/postpartum-thyroiditis/ Accessed January 2014
About the Thyroid Federation International (TFI)
The Thyroid Federation International first convened in Toronto at the 11th International Thyroid Congress in September 1995. Diana Meltzer Abramsky, who in 1980 founded the Thyroid Foundation of Canada in Kingston, Ontario Canada, first advocated the vision of a world thyroid patient organization to deal with the problems of thyroid disease in a global perspective. Since then the Federation has grown to include thyroid organizations in many parts of the world, including Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan. TFI is an independent, worldwide network of patient-support organizations. The Federation works together for the benefit of those affected by thyroid disorders by providing information and raising awareness, by encouraging and assisting the formation of patient-oriented groups, and by working closely with the medical professions. TFI has a Medical Advisory Board, which consists of some of the most eminent thyroid specialists in the world.
For more information, please visit http://www.thyroid-fed.org/tfi-wp/
About Merck Serono
Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.
Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.
For more information, please visit http://www.merckserono.com.
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Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors. With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 38,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company - since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70 percent interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as EMD.