How low thyroid hormone increases your risk of diabetes
Research published in the journal Hindawi in 2018 stated that 11% of the total Indian population is suffering from hypothyroidism.
Research published in the journal Hindawi in 2018 stated that 11% of the total Indian population (that accounts for around 42 million people) is suffering from hypothyroidism.
It’s an alarming situation as that means that more than one in every 10 Indians is suffering from a dysfunctioning thyroid.
As if that isn’t worrying enough, scientists have found a link between hypothyroidism and diabetes recently.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck, right below the Adam’s apple. It helps regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.
Thyroid dysfunction can present itself either as hyperthyroidism or as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine which accelerates the body’s metabolism and may lead to various changes in the body including weight loss. Hypothyroidism is marked with decreased production of thyroxine leading to slowing down of the metabolism, thus, causing weight gain and cold insensitivity.
The link between hypothyroidism and diabetes
Diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease are the two most common endocrine disorders and are often seen co-existing in patients. Many studies have shown that people with hypothyroidism are at more risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus). Most women with subclinical hypothyroidism (an early form of hypothyroidism) are more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
Scientists believe that thyroid dysfunction may alter carbohydrate metabolism by influencing insulin in such a way that it results in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus and vice versa.
Various scientists have drawn many conclusions on how thyroid hormone could affect insulin metabolism in the body.
- Some scientists believe that since thyroid hormones are crucial for our body’s metabolism and energy expenditure, low thyroid hormone levels are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI). High BMI is associated with a higher risk of diabetes.
- Another study claims that hypothyroidism is responsible for decreased insulin sensitivity. This means that insulin does not absorb as much glucose, which might lead to excessively high blood sugar levels. Hypothyroidism also decreases the ability of insulin to increase the utilization of glucose, mainly in muscles.
- Some studies state that individuals with a low to normal thyroid function (hypothyroidism or at risk of it), which includes a large proportion of the population, are at an even higher risk of progression from prediabetes to diabetes.
Reducing the risk
Scientists believe that for individuals who have prediabetes and low thyroid function, diabetes treatment or lifestyle adjustments (like proper diet and exercise) could be prompted in an earlier stage.
They further stated that thyroid treatment should be started for people with both subclinical hypothyroidism and prediabetes to prevent the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
For more on this topic, please read our article on Hypothyroidism.
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