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Variation in rates of autoimmune thyroid disease by race/ethnicity in US military personnel.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Undetermined

Sponsoring Office:

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Government, academic, or industry source other than Federal Government

Release Date/Publication:

Principle Investigator Status: Academia

Primary DoD Data Source: Defense Medical Surveillance System

Secondary DoD Data Source:


The relationship between Graves disease and race/ethnicity is undefined. Based on thyroid antibody prevalence, the rates of Hashimoto thyroiditis may be highest in whites and lowest in blacks. Using a large and comprehensive data set of medical diagnoses for all US active duty service personnel, we calculated age-standardized incidence rates for Graves disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis by race/ethnicity. Compared with whites, the IRR for Graves disease was significantly elevated in black women (IRR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.56-2.37) and men (IRR, 2.53; 95% CI, 2.01-3.18) and Asian/Pacific Islander women (IRR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.20-2.66) and men (IRR, 3.36; 95% CI, 2.57-4.40) (Figure). In contrast, Hashimoto thyroiditis incidence was highest in whites and lowest in black women (IRR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.21-0.51) and men (IRR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.11-0.47) and Asian/Pacific Islander women (IRR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.17-0.56) and men (IRR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.07-0.72). The differences in incidence by race/ethnicity may be due to different environmental exposures, genetics, or a combination of both. Our results are not easily attributable to the strongest known environmental risk factor, cigarette smoking.


McLeod DS, Caturegli P, Cooper DS, Matos PG, Hutfless S. Variation in rates of autoimmune thyroid disease by race/ethnicity in US military personnel. JAMA. 2014 Apr 16;311(15):1563-5.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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