Hypothyroidism is a well-recognized risk of Type 1 diabetes, but new research shows there’s a strong association with Type 2 diabetes as well. In a study involving over 5,000 people, researchers found the prevalence of hypothyroidism to be nearly 6 percent among people with type 2 diabetes, compared to just under 2 percent in those without.
The association was so significant that researchers recommended routine screening for hypothyroidism at the time of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
It’s estimated that anywhere from 10 percent to 31 percent of type 2 diabetics may have thyroid dysfunction, with subclinical hypothyroidism the most common thyroid condition. Subclinical hypothyroidism has also been linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Both thyroid disorders and diabetes involve a dysfunction of the endocrine system. Type 1 diabetes and the most common cause of hypothyroidism — Hashimoto’s disease— are also both autoimmune diseases, and having one autoimmune disease increases your risk of developing another.
With type 2 diabetes, coexisting hypothyroidism may increase your risk of heart problems, and the researchers noted that early identification of both conditions could improve heart function, blood pressure and lipid profile.
A separate report in Clinical Diabetes noted:
“ … Hypothyroidism is accompanied by a variety of abnormalities in plasma lipid metabolism, including elevated triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations.
Even subclinical hypothyroidism can exacerbate the coexisting dyslipidemia commonly found in type 2 diabetes and further increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
Symptoms of hypothyroidism, especially at the subclinical level, are often minimal or, like fatigue, dry skin, constipation, muscle cramps and memory problems, may mimic those of many other conditions, making it incredibly easy to miss.
Fortunately, dietary approaches and other lifestyle changes can often help bring both your thyroid function and blood sugar levels back into the normal ranges.
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 20th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress April 15, 2011
DocGuide.com April 18, 2011
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