Denise Richards is sending a big thank you to a few eagle-eyed viewers who noticed her thyroid looked unusually large.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, 48, said that they spotted the abnormality on her neck during the show’s reunion episodes.
“A few of you pointed out after the #RHOBH reunion that my thyroid was enlarged,” she wrote on Instagram. “You were right, it was something I ignored until pointed out.”
Richards said that she is doing better after going gluten-free.
“It’s amazing to me in a short time eliminating gluten from my diet how much my thyroid has changed,” she said. “… I had no idea how much our diet really can affect our body and for me how toxic gluten really is…I thank all of you who sent me messages.”
An enlarged thyroid is also known as a goiter. According to the Mayo Clinic, goiters themselves are harmless — though they can be uncomfortable, and cause pain when swallowing or coughing — but they could signify a bigger issue, such as thyroid, Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease, or even thyroid cancer.
Women, especially those over 40, are more likely to develop goiters. They can be treated with medication to regulate hormones, surgery, or in mild cases can be left alone to see if they heal independently. Richard’s method, switching to a gluten-free diet, is popular in online forums but it has not been studied enough to determine if it is a necessary solution, wrote Scientific American. However, a clinical study published in July 2018 found that switching to a gluten-free diet did help women with autoimmune thyroid disease.
This isn’t the first time that TV watchers have helped reality stars identify an illness — in 2013, a nurse emailed the Flip or Flop production company after spotting a lump on host Tarek El Moussa’s neck that turned out to be stage 3 thyroid cancer.
“If she didn’t send that email, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be doing this interview right now,” the dad of two said in June, reflecting on the experience. “If she didn’t send that email, maybe there are other people out there that never would have found out they had cancer because I didn’t have my story.”
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