Too often, people say Type 2 diabetes is caused only by lifestyle choices, despite growing evidence of biological and environmental mechanisms that trigger the condition. Here’s another possible culprit – your thyroid.
According to new research, people with low-functioning or near-low-functioning thyroids have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The risk is even higher for individuals who are prediabetic. Findings were presented by Dr. Layal Chaker, a researcher from Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, at the 2016 Endocrine Society Annual meeting.
The nearly eight-year study included 8,452 older inhabitants from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Over the course of the study, 798 participants developed Type 2 diabetes, while another 1,110 developed prediabetes. After collecting samples and evaluating variables within the study, researchers determined that those with an underactive thyroid gland were between 19 percent and 35 percent more likely to develop prediabetes or, eventually, Type 2 diabetes. The risk for both diabetes and prediabetes dropped from up to 35 to 15 percent once thyroid levels returned to normal range.
While the exact link between a low-functioning thyroid and Type 2 diabetes is unknown, Dr. Chaker explains that it could have something to do with the overlapping symptoms between hypothyroidism and prediabetes. The thyroid is crucial in the production of hormones that regulate both metabolism and energy production in the body; a common side effect of an underactive thyroid is weight gain and an inability to lose a substantial amount of weight. Researchers hope these new findings could result in more support from insurance companies for initiating early screening for diabetes and thyroid issues.
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