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Thyroid Problems May Not Increase Dementia Risk

Update Date: Dec 30, 2013 07:07 PM EST
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Having an underactive thyroid does not increase the risk of memory problems, according to a new study.

Researchers found that hypothyroidism, a condition that causes low or no thyroid hormone production, does not increase the risk of dementia or impaired brain function.

Previous studies revealed that changes in the body's endocrine system, including thyroid function, might increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. After looking at more than 1,900 participants between the ages of 70 and 89, researchers fond that memory and thinking problems occurred at about the same rate The study revealed that impairments in cognition 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.

Even after taking into account participants' age, gender, body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and other health problems, researchers found that no association between hypothyroidism and mild brain impairment.

Other researchers noted that the latest findings "need to be validated in research in separate settings" and with a study that follows patients over time, according to HealthDay.

"The practicing physician should continue testing thyroid function in the setting of [memory and thinking] decline and treating clinical hypothyroidism," added Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology

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