Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Diabetes

Is Your Thyroid Killing You? Diabetes

Dana, your blood sugar and cholesterol are very high. Do you have a family history of diabetes and heart disease?

Several months later…

Dana, your blood sugar and cholesterol are high again. You should start a cholesterol-lowering statin drug and diabetes medication. Let’s wait until your next lab test to decide.

347 million people worldwide have diabetes. The World Health Organization warns that its escalating rates around the world will result in the doubling of diabetes deaths between 2005 and 2030.1

Thyroid Disease and Diabetes

The frequency of thyroid dysfunction in diabetic patients is higher than that of the general population. The Journal of Thyroid Research published an article in 2011 reviewing the scientific research worldwide on thyroid disorders and diabetes mellitus.2

Perros et al. demonstrated an overall prevalence of 13.4% of thyroid diseases in diabetics with the highest prevalence in type 1 female diabetics (31.4%). A prevalence of 12.3% was reported among Greek diabetic patients and 16% of Saudi patients with type 2 diabetes were found to have thyroid dysfunction. In Jordan, a study reported that thyroid dysfunction was present in 12.5% of type 2 diabetic patients.

Thyroid disorders remain the most frequent autoimmune disorders associated with type 1 diabetes. Positive TPO antibodies have been reported in as high as 38% of diabetic individuals. Ghawil et al. documented that 23.4% of type 1 diabetic Libyan subjects had positive TPO antibodies and 7% had positive TG antibodies.

According to the World Health Organization, 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease.3

In the legendary book Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, Dr. Broda Barnes presented research that the cardiovascular complication of diabetes was due to low thyroid function rather than insulin. Just one look at last week’s post Is Your Thyroid Killing You? Heart Disease will show you that there is a deadly link between hypothyroidism and heart disease. Dr. Barnes wrote that many diabetic patients are in fact hypothyroid and the heart disease that manifests in these diabetic patients is due to the thyroid deficiency. Dr. Barnes claimed that heart disease complications of diabetes could be prevented by treatment with natural desiccated thyroid.

Thyroid Screening for Diabetics

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics have an increased risk of thyroid disorder. All diabetics, pre-diabetics, and those with family history of diabetes, should receive mandatory thyroid screening. I decided to look at the clinical guidelines to see if thyroid testing is mandated for diabetes. I was so disappointed with what I discovered that I felt compelled to write this post.

According to an article published in the online magazine Diabetes Forecast by the American Diabetes Association “Detecting Thyroid Disease: People with diabetes are prone to disorders of this gland”:4

Because of the high risk of thyroid disease among people with type 1 diabetes, it’s especially important for them to get tested. The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone with type 1 be tested for hypothyroidism at diagnosis and, if the initial exam is normal, every year or two afterward. Testing isn’t thought to be necessary for everyone with type 2 because the risk of thyroid disease is less. However, it’s wise to be familiar with its symptoms so you can detect hormone abnormalities early before blood glucose levels worsen.

A simple blood test can detect thyroid disease. Too much of the thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, indicates hypothyroidism.

Wait. Rewind. Read that carefully.

Where do I begin?

Multiple studies conclude that hypothyroidism shows a strong association with type 2 diabetes. Yes the association is greater with type 1, but what about all the type 2 diabetic sufferers who may be hypothyroid. Why should they not have the opportunity to be tested to rule out thyroid disorder? If their undiagnosed hypothyroidism is causing heart disease complications, simple testing may save their lives.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. A person with one autoimmune disease is more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetics are at high risk of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, and vice versa. Hashimoto’s is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism in the world. With this recommendation to test only TSH, type 1 diabetics with Hashimoto’s may go undiagnosed. There is no mention of testing for thyroid antibodies. Hashimoto’s: Your body is not supposed to attack and destroy itself right?

TSH is the blood test recommended for diagnosis. There is no mention of conducting a full thyroid panel, including free T4 and free T3. So many hypothyroid sufferers go undiagnosed because mainstream medicine relies solely on TSH as the “gold” standard for diagnosis and treatment. Top 5 Reasons Doctors Fail To Diagnose Hypothyroidism.

Dana, your high cholesterol and blood sugar levels are now normal.

My primary care physician shakes his head in amazement. (I had searched for a great thyroid doctor who put me on natural desiccated thyroid.)

You won’t be needing the prescriptions for statins and diabetes medication.

The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million people worldwide with thyroid dysfunction yet over half are unaware of their condition.5 Given that close to 150 million people worldwide are estimated to be unaware of their thyroid dysfunction, how many diabetics are there right now worldwide unaware of their thyroid condition? Hmmm…

Reversing Diabetes World Summit

The Reversing Diabetes World Summit is a FREE online health conference that will air between May 5 – May 16, 2014.

You’ll hear from health experts like Mark Hyman, MD, David Perlmutter, MD, JJ Virgin, CNS, Amy Myers, MD, Ashley Koff, RD, Stephen Sinatra, MD, Suzy Cohen, RPh, Mark Houston, MD, Chris Kresser, LAc, and Jonny Bowden, PhD.

There’s absolutely no cost to attend the event but you do have to register if you plan to attend by clicking here.

References:

  1. World Health Organization. World Diabetes Day 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/diabetes/en/
  2. Hage, M., Zantout, M.S., Azar, S.T. Review Article: Thyroid Disorders and Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Thyroid Research Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 439463, 7 pages
  3. World Health Organization. Diabetes. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/index.html
  4. American Diabetes Association. Detecting Thyroid Disease: People with diabetes are prone to disorders of this gland. Retrieved from: http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/diabetes-101/detecting-thyroid-disease
  5. Thyroid Federation International. International Thyroid Awareness Week. Retrieved from: http://www.thyroidweek.com/en/be-thyroid-aware.html
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. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. I am very confused. I am 58 and my last TSH was 5.08. My TPO AB was 7 and AB was <20. I really don't have any glaring symptoms of Hypo. What is the ceiling number for Hashimotos on the antibodies? My LDL is high as is my HDL. I'm on a high fat, low carb diet. I was pronounced prediabetic back in 2010 but I finally got my A1C down to 5.5 and I'm striving to get it to 4.6. My fasting BG is always low as is my post prandial BGs. I'm getting a little worried reading all of this . I got my own blood tests from a chiropractor so I don't have an MD working on this for me. I don't trust or like MDs, so I got the blood tests on my own. I do eat Kelp regularly and I hope that is not adding to a looming problem.

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Sharon, It is great to hear from you. Laboratories use different units for measurement so check on your lab results and to the right of your scores there normally appears the reference ranges. For my lab tests, for example, Thyroid Peroxidase AB reference range is <35 IU/mL and Thyroglobulin AB is <20 IU/mL. According to these ranges, assuming the same reference ranges are used by your laboratory, your levels do not show high antibodies for Hashimoto's. Just the same, it is said that there are some Hashi sufferers that show up with low thyroid antibodies but still have Hashimoto's and I've included a link below for you to read. However let's assume you don't have Hashimoto's for a moment, your TSH of 5.08 is higher than recommended. There is debate over what the "normal" TSH range should be with many mainstream laboratories using 0.5 to 5.0 while thyroid advocates are pushing for a narrowing of that range. Thyroid Advocate Mary Shomon wrote, "More innovative doctors are beginning to believe that a TSH of around 1 - 2 --- in the low end of the normal range -- is optimal for most people to feel well and avoid having hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms. Similarly, some practitioners feel that optimal hypothyroidism treatment includes Free T4 in the top half of the normal range, and Free T3 in the top 25th percentil of the normal range." Your TSH 5.08 is well above that ideal range. Just the same it is just as important to note your symptoms. I am happy to hear you are not experiencing symptoms, although your high LDL cholesterol, prediabetes are potential symptoms of hypothyroidism. Although they may be caused by other factors, it would be worthwhile to get a second medical opinion from a doctor who tests not just TSH but also Free T4 and Free T3. I hope my posts attached below make things a little clearer. Welcome to Hypothyroid Mom!

      http://thyroid.about.com/cs/hypothyroidism/a/notwell.htm

      http://thyroidbook.com/blog/page/14/

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/300-hypothyroidism-symptoms-yes-really/

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/top-5-reasons-doctors-fail-to-diagnose-hypothyroidism/

      • Thanks so much for your response, Dana.
        I forgot to put my T3 and T4 numbers.
        My T3 (free) was 2.1. The bottom of the range is 2.0..so not good.
        My T4 was 1.11 . The range is .82 – 1.77

        Your lab and mine match values for the antibody tests, so that’s a relief as mine is low.

        Something interesting happens sometimes when I eat seaweed with dinner (contains lots of iodine) and I take my temperature the next morning, it runs pretty good. This morning it was 98.2. Usually runs 97.4-97.7.

        I will have to find a decent doc which is hard to do, but I’ll go for more tests in April and see what happens.

        Thanks for the links too!

  2. Hi mam,
    I’m Shamina. I’ve done my thyroid test. Total Triodothyronine (T3) shows value 89, total Thyroxine (T4) shows value 7.80 and Thyroid stimulating hormone (TCH) shows 5.08. Do I have thyroid and is the TCH showing too high, which need medication? Awaiting your reply soon.
    \Shamina

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Shamina, it’s great to have you on Hypothyroid Mom. I love your name Shamina, it’s a beautiful name. Normally the TSH normal range depending on the laboratory used and the country where you live is set around 0.5 to 5.0. So a TSH of 5.08 is high enough that you should discuss treatment with your doctor. It would be helpful to ask your doctor to test your Free T4, Free T3 and thyroid antibodies (TPO-Ab and TgAb) so that you have a complete picture of the thyroid condition. So the first step is contacting your doctor to request those additional tests. Best of luck Shamina.

  3. jill aguirre says:

    Hello Dana! My name is Jill. I am 47 1/2. I have had thyroid disorders on and off, throughout my life, since I was 15. All of my thyroid levels are at normal ranges, currently. I also have Glaucoma. Strangely enough, my opthamologist, was checking my pressure levels in my eyes, when he stopped, turned around, and asked me when was the last time I had been checked for diabetes. I told him I have always been Hypoglycemic. He said that I should get into my Internal Medicine doctor right away. I am a member of, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so I am very, very Health-Food driven; as everything in moderation. However, I wasn’t always a healthy person. Geneaology is imperative to our lives; having said that, heart problems run rampant on both sides of the family, and a lot of my relatives, died, being just a few years older than I am now. Also, we all are Native-American. Unfortunately, I have researched the thyroid-diabetes connection, finding it is extremely bad for your heart, causing it to become weakened. I was struck from behind, by a young man driving a car; he having been on methamphetamines for 2 weeks. I was just walking to catch the city bus, from my mom’s home; I had been visiting her that day. I suffered horrendously broken legs, head injuries, and many other lacerations all over my body. After running over me, he backed over me, to try to get away before the police arrived. I was clinically dead, due to so much blood loss. In his whacked out mind, he thought I was a trash dumpster, and he had ran me over, thru someone’s front yard, which was lined with thorn bushes; which is the reason he wanted so badly to get his car un-jammed. He had no idea I was a human being. Needless to say, I spent years, having to be in bed so much, due to all of the operations. I am walking now, with a cane, but I still have at least 50 pounds that I need to lose, but I must be careful in what I do; I have a leg that had to be fused, and a leg that does not straighten, ergo; my physical exertion is extremely limited. Do you know of any site/webpage that might be able to help me with this? I know the weight is so hard on my heart. I have all these strikes against me. I just want to be the healthiest I can be. My daughter just gave birth to my first grandson, 3rd grandchild. I need to be around for them!! They are my whole reason for changing my life!!!!! Thank You!!

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Jill,

      I am so sorry to hear about your horrible accident. How scary. You could have been killed by that guy. WOW! Of course genetic plays a big role in thyroid conditions, but another very important trigger for thyroid conditions is stress, physical and emotional. Given the stress of what you’ve been through it is no surprise if your thyroid condition has worsened. The site Stop The Thyroid Madness is a great one. I recommend the first step is getting all the tests recommended in this article attached to be sure everything has been checked.

      http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/recommended-labwork/

      It is particularly important for you to check your adrenals which produce cortisol to manage stress. Abnormal cortisol levels can wreak havoc on our thyroid during times of stress. The best test for adrenals is a saliva test for cortisol.

      http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/adrenal-info/

    • Severe blood loss can sometimes cause damage to the pituitary gland which makes the TSH, so it may not be able to produce that hormone optimally. In that case, it would be better to rely on the Free T4 and Free T3 tests and as Dana has mentioned in articles — Free T4 should be in the upper half of the range and Free T3 in the upper 25% of the range. Good luck in getting those tests — make sure that you get a copy.

  4. Searching for this for some time now – i guess luck is much more advanced than research engines :)

  5. kathleen wells says:

    my 25 year old autistic daughter has just been diagnosed with hashimotos she was type 1 diabetic from age 9 they say she has had hashimotos probably since age 17 i have been asking them repeatedly to check her thyroid as i wondered if she had graves like me her lack of sleep and hair loss had me very worried and finally an emergency doctor did all the tests not just the thyroid function test. her hb1c was 13 which i think was because her thyroid was not working properly and made us crazy trying to get her blood sugars under control. hopefully we are on the right track with medication for thyroid i wish doctors would listen sometimes.

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Kathleen, I’m sorry to hear all your daughter has gone through. It is amazing really the lack of awareness there is about thyroid disease in general and then so little is done to spread awareness about the connection between hypothyroidism and diabetes. If your daughter is put on a Levothyroxine drug like Synthroid and yet she still doesn’t feel better, be aware that many do better on a combination of T4 and T3 medication.

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/which-is-the-best-thyroid-drug-for-hypothyroidism/

      There is much written about the connection between gluten and Hashimoto’s that it would be worth it to try gluten free for your daughter.

      On Monday February 10 a mother with an autistic child will be including a guest blog post about her son’s hypothyroidism and autism. You may be interested in reading it. Stay tuned.

  6. I always felt lethargic and sluggish, and was blaming diabetes which runs in my family for my ailment, but soon discovered that an underactive thyroid can also be the culprit.

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi hyipcore, better to get thyroid testing just to be sure. Be sure your testing includes not just TSH but also Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.

  7. Hi! I had a thyroid nodule 8 years ago that resulted in a partial thyroidectomy. For a bit, my thyroid was apparently producing enough hormone. But after a while, the half that was left was unable to keep up and I was placed on levothyroxin (75 mcg). I still have symptoms such as cold intolerance and will be seeing a new dr. this month. Bloodwork that was done for an unrelated problem (gastritis/acid reflux) showed that I have “low kidney function”. Could this possibly be a result of my thyroid problem as well?

  8. A shout out to my fellow PWDs!

    I love this site and am happy to see this article on diabetes and thyroid disease.

    I just wrote a blog post on type one diabetes and thyroid disease: http://www.diabetestogo.com

  9. Dana Trentini says:

    Thank you Forrest Beck for sharing my post with your Google+ community. I love your Hypothyroidism Help community with weekly video Q&A sessions, interviews, and new research. https://plus.google.com/communities/115284815349805680662

Trackbacks

  1. [...] http://hypothyroidmom.com/is-your-thyroid-killing-you-diabetes/ Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? Diabetes Blog post at Hypothyroid Mom : January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month. This post is Part 2 of my 4-part series Is Your Thyroid KILLING You? This January 2013 I plan[..] This was posted on Google+… [...]

Speak Your Mind

*