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Could Thyroid Issues Affect Diabetes? A New Study Suggests They Could

A new study out of Rotterdam suggests people with underactive thyroids, and even those whose thyroid levels fall within the low-normal range, are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The thyroid gland is involved in regulating metabolism, and low amounts of thyroid hormones can lead to weight gain due to the slowing of the overall metabolism. Weight gain already has known links to Type 2 diabetes, and these new findings add to the risk factors.

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The Rotterdam study, which tracked more than 8,000 participants for almost eight years, measured each person's thyroid function, medical records, and possible development of diabetes or prediabetes. They found that the risk of moving from the prediabetes phase to Type 2 diabetes was 40 percent higher among those with low thyroid function, even if an individual's thyroid numbers were within the low-normal range. Even those participants who didn't already have prediabetes but who had hypothyroid, or low thyroid, numbers had a 13 percent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

As of 2016, researchers haven't been able to specify the link between underactive thyroid and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but their results definitely show a connection. The scientists suggest their findings mean people who have prediabetes should have thyroid function screens. People with Type 1 diabetes already undergo routine screening for low thyroid function.

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These new findings may indicate that treating subclinical or mildly low thyroid function in those with readings in the low-normal range could help keep those patients from developing diabetes down the road. The new links between low thyroid function and prediabetes or diabetes are important, especially given that 90 percent of the people with prediabetes in the United States don't realize they're affected. Click here to sign a petition to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services encouraging screenings for diabetes in all routine physicals.

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