An underactive thyroid could indicate there is a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research finds.
A study of 8,500 people in the Netherlands showed a low thyroid function boosted the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 per cent.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes for those who had an underactive thyroid and prediabetes was even higher at 40 per cent.
Thyroid hormones are essential for converting food into either energy or fat, but an underactive thyroid gland slows metabolism which can lead to weight gain.
Dr. Layal Chaker of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam said: “We found it surprising that even people whose thyroid function was in the low-normal range had an increased risk of diabetes.
“Future studies should investigate whether screening for and treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism [mildly low thyroid function] is beneficial in subjects at risk of developing diabetes.”
The participants, whose average age was 65, had their blood sugar and thyroid function tested every few years.
A total of 1,100 people in the study developed prediabetes, which means they have slightly higher blood sugar levels, and 798 developed type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Chaker said that although the research did not indicate a cause and effect, the findings “suggest we should consider screening people with prediabetes for low thyroid function”.
The study results were presented on Sunday April 3 at ENDO2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.