Underactive thyroid not linked to memory problems

December 30, 2013
Underactive thyroid not linked to memory problems
New findings contradict previous research suggesting that poor thyroid function might be tied to dementia.

(HealthDay)—Hypothyroidism, a condition that causes low or no thyroid hormone production, is not linked to mild dementia or impaired brain function, a new study suggests.

Although more research is needed, the scientists said their findings add to mounting evidence that the disorder is not tied to the memory and thinking problems known as "."

Some prior evidence has suggested that changes in the body's endocrine system, including , might be linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, said researchers led by Dr. Ajay Parsaik, of the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Mild cognitive impairment, in particular, is thought to be an early warning sign of the memory-robbing disorder Alzheimer's disease, the study authors said in a university news release.

In conducting the study, Parsaik's team examined a group of more than 1,900 people, including those with mild and more severe cases of hypothyroidism. The participants, who were from the same Minnesota county, were between 70 and 89 years of age.

The study showed that memory and thinking problems occurred at about the same rate regardless of thyroid function. Impairments in occurred in 16 percent of participants with normal thyroid function, 17 percent of patients with more severe hypothyroidism and 18 percent of people with mild hypothyroidism.

No association between hypothyroidism and mild brain impairment was found, the researchers said, even after they took into account the participants' age, gender, body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and other health problems.

One expert said the final word on this issue might still be yet to come, however.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the study had a "robust" design. But because the results conflict with those of prior studies, they "need to be validated in research in separate settings" and with a trial that follows patients over time.

"The practicing physician should continue testing thyroid function in the setting of [memory and thinking] decline and treating clinical ," Mezitis said.

The study was published online Dec. 30 in the journal JAMA Neurology.

Explore further: Mild increases in thyroid-stimulating hormone not harmful in the elderly

More information: The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about hypothyroidism.

Related Stories

Are concussions related to Alzheimer's disease?

December 26, 2013

A new study suggests that a history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer's-associated plaques in the brain. The research is published in the December ...

Recommended for you

Scientists show how memories are linked in the brain

July 22, 2016

Some memories just seem to go together. Think about an important experience in your life. You may also closely remember another experience that happened around that time too, like exchanging vows at your wedding, and then ...

Novel compounds arrested epilepsy development in mice

July 22, 2016

A team led by Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of LSU Health New Orleans' Neuroscience Center of Excellence, has developed neuroprotective compounds that may prevent the development of epilepsy. The findings ...

Scientists apply new imaging tool to common brain disorders

July 20, 2016

A Yale-led team of researchers developed a new approach to scanning the brain for changes in synapses that are associated with common brain disorders. The technique may provide insights into the diagnosis and treatment of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.