Sluggish Thyroid Associated with Increased Mortality

Friday, June 13, 2008
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

The importance of keeping your thyroid system in tip-top working condition cannot be underestimated.  A variety of recent studies have concluded that a struggling thyroid system is associated with an increased risk of death, especially when there is a concurrent health problem or when there is cardiovascular issues.  This makes sense, since thyroid is like the drummer in a band, setting the pace for energy production for all other systems in your body.  When not working efficiently, less energy is available.  Problems in other areas will be magnified (since energy is needed for anything to work properly).

The studies involve what is called subclinical hypothyroidism – meaning that the problem isn’t bad enough to warrant thyroid hormone replacement but something about the thyroid system is not working up to par.  Said another way – traditional medicine has no answers even though the problem is a serious cofactor in the decline of health.  It is a fairly common problem in our society, especially as one grows older and hormones don’t work as well.

The most recent study shows the risk of death is increased by 76% when subclinical hypothyroidism1 is combined with another health problem – meaning that the presence of the thyroid problem increases the likelihood of a poor response to any other more serious health issue.  This study found also found that when there was not another serious health problem, the sluggish thyroid problem by itself did not increase the risk of death.

However, we must also consider that the number one killer in America is heart disease.  Both your heart and your thyroid are governing how oxygen is used in your body (your heart pumps oxygen-containing blood around, thyroid governs the rate of oxygen use within your cells). 

As the general population moves towards weakness in cardiovascular health during aging, is there a risk for increased mortality if the person also has subclinical hypothyroidism?  This question has been debated for years and the answer now appears to be yes.

Two new meta-analyses of previous thyroid studies, one done in Switzerland2 and the other in the United States3, have found a significant increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease if there is concurrent subclinical hypothyroidism.

This information has a clear take home message:  Do everything possible to maintain optimal function of your thyroid and its related systems in your body.  Following the Leptin Diet is a key to improving the efficiency of thyroid hormone in your body.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Poor Thyroid Function Increases Mortality as a Cofactor with Other Health Problems  Eur J Endocrinol.  Haentjens P, Van Meerhaeghe A, Poppe K, Velkeniers B.
  2. ^ Swiss Study Links Poor Thyroid Function To Cardiovascular Mortality Risk  Ann Intern Med.  Ochs N, Auer R, Bauer DC, Nanchen D, Gussekloo J, Cornuz J, Rodondi N.
  3. ^ American Study Links Poor Thyroid Function To Cardiovascular Mortality Risk  Int J Cardiol.  Singh S, Duggal J, Molnar J, Maldonado F, Barsano CP, Arora R.

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