Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's & Thyroid Disease

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 deadliest diseases in the country that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Mortality data show that death rates have declined for most major diseases, while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have continued to rise.1 Growing evidence links thyroid dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease.

At the start of my undergraduate science degree in the late 1980s, I was fortunate to take a course with a professor who was passionate about neurobiology. The science of the brain was intriguing to me. I graduated with my Honors Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. Alzheimer’s was a major topic of study in our program and an exciting one as the race for a cure was on. It amazes me that over 20 years later there is still no cure for this lethal disease.

Reality: Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person’s identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home.2

The Framingham Study is a longitudinal community-based observational study of participants who have been evaluated biennially since 1948 for cardiovascular risk factors. Over a follow-up period of 12.7 years, close to 2,000 participants from the Framingham Study were tested periodically for thyroid function using TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels and tested for dementia using the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE). In 2008 the findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.3

Women with TSH below 1.0 and those with a TSH above 2.1 had a greater than two-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

These findings should be considered hypothesis-generating and validated in other populations before clinical conclusions are drawn.

The results are particularly disturbing given the ongoing debate over the normal reference range for TSH. The normal range used by many mainstream doctors for TSH is 0.5 to 5.0. According to this reference range, patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism and treated until their TSH reaches above 5.0. Then there are doctors worldwide who refuse to treat until the TSH reaches above 10.0. Given that this study showed TSH above 2.1 increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, there is great concern for women with thyroid dysfunction.

Absolutely yes more studies should be done to validate these findings. The lives of millions are at risk.

Given that every cell in the body including the brain requires thyroid hormones for proper functioning, it’s not hard to imagine how a disruption in thyroid levels has the power to affect the brain in Alzheimer’s. Don’t underestimate that little butterfly shaped thyroid gland at the base of our necks.

Reality: At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about 6 to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.4

Alzheimer’s disease begins destroying the brain 10-20 years before symptoms ever appear. By the time diagnosis is made, the disease has already destroyed nerve cells and tissue throughout the brain. Over time, the brain shrinks affecting nearly all its functions. Prevention is key.

Take charge of your health. Be proactive and have your thyroid properly tested and optimally treated – 30 online resources to find a good thyroid doctor.

Be aware of the 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and seek help immediately if you or someone you know shows these signs.

My mother-in-law Jenny has severe Alzheimer’s. No matter how much I studied this disease in school, nothing prepared me for what it’s like when someone you love falls in the hands of this deadly killer. This woman is an exceptionally smart talented person. No one would have guessed this would happen to her. To see this disease robe her of her memories and her identity is very painful. This a special post dedicated to her.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. This is Part 4 of the series “Is Your Thyroid KILLING You?” This January I plan to save lives.

Part 1 – Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Heart Disease

Part 2 – Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Diabetes

Part 3 – Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Breast Cancer

  1. Alzheimer’s Association. 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. 2012 March;8:131-168
  2. Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Myths
  3. Tan, Z.S., Beiser, A., Vasan, R.S., Au, R., Auerbach, S., Kiel, D.P., Wolf, P.A., Seshadri, S. Thyroid Function and the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Framingham Study. Arch Intern Med. 2008 July 28;168(14):1514-1520
  4. Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Myths

Take Back Your Thyroid Health! Sign up and never miss a post - it's FREE

About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. *Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links. Connect with me on Google+


  1. Another scary post Dana!! My dad passed away a couple of years ago and not only had Alzhheimer’s, but he also had hypothyroidism :( So, this article reinforces the idea that I am doomed to get it :(

    One sentence that I”m concerned about is how the increase is twofold if your TSH is below 1 or above 2.1. From my understanding, aren’t most people that are on natural dessicated thyroid have a suppressed TSH? Is your TSH suppressed?

    • Dana Trentini says:

      I am sorry to hear about your dad Charlene. You ask an important question. Not all hypothyroidism sufferers on natural desiccated thyroid have suppressed TSH however there is a group of us including me that do have suppressed TSH, while our Free T4 and Free T3 levels are in the normal range and our symptoms are improved. This study did not test for Free T4 and Free T3, which is what I was looking for as well. TSH was all that was being tested. The Framingham study is a large study that spanned many years of follow-up. Clearly there is need for much more research. My hope is to get this out to help spread awareness about the dangers and to hopefully bring light to the need for more research.

  2. Adam Reynard says:

    Hi Dana Interesting story. Did you notice all the research being done regarding anatabine and Alzheimer’s disease?

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Adam, Absolutely I’ve been reading over the research you sent me and it’s very interesting. I’m particularly interested in the inflammation reducing effects of anatabine. I personally believe I am suffering from low levels of inflammation based on different blood tests and have been experimenting with different products to reduce my inflammation. I will seriously consider trying this product on myself in the near future to see the effects. Thank you for bringing this product to my attention.

  3. Adam Reynard says:

    You mentioned something interesting. The C-Reactive Protein blood test is suppose to be an inflammation marker. High is bad and low is good. They are doing a clinical study on this right now I believe. Have you measured your CRP?

    I am collecting more research and will share with you later.

    I think inflammation is perhaps the major medical issue of our time . Too few people are focused on it. Thank you.

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Yes my C-Reactive Protein levels are high. Before proper thyroid treatment they were sky high and my doctor was very concerned. Since treatment they have lowered however they are still too high. I too believe that inflammation is the reason. I am trying a few things right now to try to lower them and will be retesting my levels to see the effect. I would appreciate any research you have on the benefits for C-Reactive Protein. Thanks Adam.

  4. Thank you for the dedication. I am able to keep doing whatever I can each day. You have helped to keep me going for a long time! I love you and will have a nice surprise for you soon,
    Mom Jenny

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Oh Mom I’m so happy you left me a comment. I wrote this post for you. (This is my sweet talented smart mother-in-law Jenny. This post is dedicated to her.) I hope to see an end to Alzheimer’s Disease.

  5. Aww your mother in law is so sweet!

    About two years ago, I began suffering from what seemed like symptoms of Alzheimers. (This was in the midst of over two years of beyond extreme postpartum insomnia.) I suddenly couldn’t recall some of my most precious and pretty recent (from merely a few years prior) memories. I remember asking my daughter’s dad some of the cute phrases I used to say to him. Because suddenly, the most special years of my life were just a blank.! The really scary thing was when I had a total memory lapse and went to kiss him yet had momentarily forgotten how to kiss….I couldn’t remember how….I didn’t know what to do! I began forgetting the date, the day and details of phone conversations minutes after I had them. If I didn’t document something my daughter did with either a video camera or writing it down, it would usually be totally erased from my memory in a few days. It felt and often feels like really all I have is today, the present day. (Though I’ve gotten so used to it now that I can’t even remember what normal felt like.) I can’t budget anymore. I sometimes judge space badly when I’m driving or turning a corner and occassionally run onto the curve. Planning is a disaster for me…I can’t seem to make steps and follow through. I have to go do something right then, or at the last minute, or it often can’t happen at all. I struggle with all ten things on the article you posted. I do have undiagnosed thyroid disease issues. But I was also going through perimenopause and am now menopausal at 30. I have sleep quality issues and may have severe sleep apnea. So, I’m not really sure which one might be causing it? I’ve lost most of my long term memories…its weird. I will watch a video from five years ago and not remember any of the memories that I was mentioning in the video. I only remember like two details of my daughter’s entire birth. When I read memories I’ve written down, it still feels as if I was never there…its often as if I’m reading someone else’s memory. I used to be exceptionally smart and creative. When it started getting really bad, it was really emotional because I did feel as if I’d lost me and my identity…because our memories really make us who we are. I filled out a test and was shocked when the results came back saying I’d had a hysterectomy, since I hadn’t. Frustrated that they messed up my test results, I called demanding answers. The woman told me that I had in fact checked off that I’d had a hysterectomy. I had absolutely no recollection of it…it must have looked like something else to me when I’d checked it. To this day, I’m like, did she just say I checked it off because I know I didn’t! Its scary when you can’t rely on your own memory. My sister will chastise me and say she can’t understand how I can’t remember something from only the day before… “its your number one priority…how can you not remember something so important to you?!?” I’m so used to it that I forget this really isn’t normal for a 30 year old… is it? LOL But I lacked healthy support so couldn’t pursue any treatment or investigate further. (My friends and family downplayed it and ignored it.) So, I realized I would just need to make the best of it though it was heartbreaking. I started to consider people who have brain injuries and sometimes lose all their prior memories; that made me feel less sad and more able to accept something so serious! Plus everybody expected me to be so strong. So, I pretended I was just like someone who has had a brain injury since I needed some way to positively cope with the loss.

    Does that sound like Alzheimers?

    • Dana Trentini says:


      It would be best to speak with your doctor about these symptoms. It’s always better to be cautious. There are many potential underlying issues with memory problems, one being low B12 levels, which is very common for thyroid sufferers. The other major possibility is your thyroid function. Brain fog and memory loss can be real symptoms of hypothyroidism. All the possibilities should be investigated. The ones I mention are reversible however I would worry if you let it go too long without addressing what affects that may have on the brain such as low vitamin levels like B12. Of course there is always the possibility that it’s early onset Alzheimer’s however the first step is to be sure you have full thyroid testing to see if that helps. Testing should include: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Antibodies, Adrenals, Iron including Ferritin, sex hormones, D3, zinc, selenium, magnesium, B12. The brain requires thyroid hormone for proper functioning just like the entire body so absolutely memory and mental health symptoms are possible if left untreated. Best wishes to you.

  6. Awesome. Thank a lot for posting this. I will definitely check to your site to find out more and recommend my neighbors about it.

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Akulani, thank you very much for sharing Hypothyroid Mom with your neighbors. Much appreciated and welcome to my site.

  7. about your posts saying Alzheimer, heart ie diebieties,,,, and others contributing from hypothyroid. we let me just tell ya. I have so many strange bazaar, wickedly sick symptoms, allergies to any medication severe heart problems, irrevocable stomach wrenching pain.confusion, dizziness, white matter on the mylon sheath in my brain, nashia vomiting, hair loss, unable to crawl, severe bone pain, menopause ,,, severe severe low and high symptoms……But if not by the grace of God I would have not survived this,,, this is a horrible horrible disease,,,, that unfortunately is like the twilight zone when it comes to getting any help,,,cause no one and I mean no one, can or will help you……… Just wanted to share this n be blessed

    • Dana Trentini says:


      I’m sorry all you’ve been through. I hear you that this is a terrible disease that no one can imagine unless they’ve walked in our shoes. Be sure you have testing that includes Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, adrenals, full iron panel, blood sugar, sex hormones, and nutrient deficiencies including D3, B12, magnesium, zinc and selenium. If you are on a Levothyroxine drug like Synthroid, consider that the majority of us do better on a combination of T4 and T3 medication.

  8. Hi Dana,
    The Framingham Study shows a correlation between the incidence of deregulated thyroid function and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in women (not men). It is however just a correlation and no causal effect is reported between the 2. Which mean that treating a thyroid disease might not have any effect on the odds of developing Alzheimer. It is an interesting study, but as scientists we have to be careful not to over-conclude.
    All the best,


Speak Your Mind