The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Parathyroid Glands: What are the risk factors for parathyroid disease?

This document is available in Spanish

What are the risk factors for parathyroid disease?


Women are twice as likely to develop primary hyperparathyroidism than men. The average age when the disease is discovered is around 65 years (and most patients are over 45 years old). So, for reasons that are not well understood, primary hyperparathyroidism is most commonly a disease of older women.

Radiation therapy to the head, neck, or chest

Exposure to ionizing radiation as can be seen with radiation therapy is a risk factor for primary hyperparathyroidism. The doses of radiation that cause hyperparathyroidism are much higher than those typically encountered in day to day life or with routine X-rays. Patients with radiation-induced hyperparathyroidism may have been exposed to radiation to the neck, chest, or head for another medical condition, such as lymphoma or breast cancer. Others may have been exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing or a nuclear disaster. The doses of radiation associated with x-rays, CAT scans, and using devices such as cell phones, microwave ovens, etc. are too low to cause parathyroid disease.

Use of Lithium

Use of lithium, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder) can increase the chance of parathyroid disease.

Family History

Please see the Is there a genetic link for primary hyperparathyroidism? section for details.

back to Top


Find an Experienced Endocrine Surgeon


Visit Endocrine Patient Resources Page