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Multiple endocrine neoplasia – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by

Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) refers to a hereditary disease wherein one or more of the endocrine glands are overactive or forms a tumor. It comes in type 1, type 2A, and type 2B diseases.

In MEN 1, the following glands develop tumors or excessive growth and activity:

  • Adrenal glands
  • Pancreas
  • Parathyroid glands
  • Thyroid gland

Almost all people with MEN 1 have tumors of the parathyroid glands. While most of the tumors are noncancerous, they do cause overproduction of the parathyroid hormone, which can raise the levels of calcium in the blood, sometimes causing kidney stones.

Many people with MEN 1 also develop tumors of the hormone-producing islet cells of the pancreas.

In MEN 2A, the following glands are affected:

  • Adrenal glands
  • Parathyroid glands
  • Thyroid gland

Almost everyone with MEN 2A develops medullary thyroid cancer. About 40 to 50 percent develop certain tumors of the adrenal glands (pheochromocytomas), which usually raise blood pressure because of the hormones they produce. The high blood pressure may be intermittent or constant and is often very severe.

Additional conditions such as cutaneous lichen amyloidosis and Hirschsprung disease also occur in people with MEN 2A.

MEN 2B consists of the following conditions:

  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Pheochromocytomas
  • Neuromas (growths around nerves)

Many people with MEN 2B have no family history of it; instead, the disease is the result of a genetic mutation.

Medullary thyroid cancer tends to develop at an early age and has been found in infants as young as three months of age. The tumors grow faster and spread more rapidly than those in MEN 2A.

Known symptoms, risk factors for multiple endocrine neoplasia

Symptoms vary from person to person, and depend on which gland is involved. Signs may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Bloated feeling after meals
  • Burning, aching, or hunger discomfort in the upper abdomen or lower chest that is relieved by antacids, milk, or food
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Lack of menstrual periods
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of body or facial hair in men
  • Mental changes or confusion
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to the cold
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

MEN affects both men and women and may occur at any age. A family history of this disorder raises your risk.

Body systems harmed by multiple endocrine neoplasia

MEN 1 can result in complications such as:

  • Recurrent tumors
  • Kidney stones
  • Recurrent gastric and duodenal ulcers
  • Pathological fractures
  • Vision disturbances

Food items or nutrients that may prevent multiple endocrine neoplasia

Several nutrients found in whole foods can help maintain overall endocrine system health.

For thyroid health:

  • Vitamin D helps regulate thyroid hormone production. Aside from sun exposure, you can get vitamin D from food sources such as cod liver oil, organic eggs, fortified dairy products, fortified cereals, mushrooms and oily fish.
  • Selenium helps activate the enzymes needed to stimulate and maintain normal thyroid function and thyroid hormone production. Selenium can be found in organ meats, clams, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, raw Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines and wild-caught salmon.
  • Iodine helps make thyroid hormone. Iodine can be found in cod, sea vegetables, scallops, shrimp, whole grains and plain yogurt.

For adrenal health:

Stress stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol, the “stress hormone,” to control blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, immune response and anti-inflammatory actions. Anti-inflammatory foods include organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and fatty fish.

For hypothalamus health:

The hypothalamus plays a key role in metabolism and weight regulation. Improve hypothalamus function with foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids such as flaxseed oil, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, eggs, sardines and tuna.

For pineal gland health:

Vitamins B-5 (pantothenic acid) and B-6 (pyridoxine) help the pineal gland produce and release melatonin, a hormone that manages the body’s circadian rhythm. Foods containing these vitamins include avocado, beans, lentils, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, tuna and turkey.

Treatments, management plans for multiple endocrine neoplasia

Surgical removal of the diseased gland is often the treatment of choice. A medicine called bromocriptine may be used instead of surgery for pituitary tumors that release the hormone prolactin.

The parathyroid glands, which regulate calcium production, may be removed, but this is not often considered as it is difficult for the body to manage calcium levels without these glands.

There is also certain medicines to reduce the production of excess stomach acid caused by some tumors (gastrinomas), and to reduce the risk of ulcers.

Hormone replacement therapy is given when entire glands are removed or do not produce enough hormones.

Where to learn more


Multiple endocrine neoplasia is a hereditary disease wherein one or more of the endocrine glands produces excess hormones or forms a tumor.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia has type 1, type 2A, and type 2B diseases, which affect different glands – thyroid, pancreas, andrenals, etc.

Sources include:


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