The Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Hypothyroidism

In a recent observational study, researchers from Mexico examined the rate of patients with type 2 diabetes who were also treated for hypothyroidism and compared this group to a group of patients who did not have type 2 diabetes.

Results of the study appeared online at the end of December 2011 in the article “The rate of primary hypothyroidism in diabetic patients is greater than in the non-diabetic population. An observational study.” The article will soon appear in the journal Medicina Clinica.

The research team reviewed computerized clinical records of a total of 5,161 patients. They identified the patients with type 2 diabetes who were treated with levothyroxine. Additionally, the researchers compared the prevalence of primary hypothyroidism with patients with type 2 diabetes who took levothyroxine.

Patients who had panhypopituitarism, a thyroid neoplasia, thyroid surgery, or surgical complications from a thyroid nodule or a multinodular goiter were excluded from the study.

It was noted that subclinical hypothyroidism was not considered in the study.

For the purposes of this study, the study group included 1,848 adults who had type 2 diabetes (58% women; 42% men). The control group included 3,313 who did not have diabetes (55% women; 45% men).

The mean age for participants in the study group was 52±7 years old, and the mean age for participants in the control group was 47±4 years old (p<.001).

Researchers found that in the study group, the rate of hypothyroidism was 5.7%, and in the control group, the rate of hypothyroidism was 1.8% (odds ratio: 3.45; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.51 to 4.79) (p<.001).

At the end of the study, the research team concluded that there is a strong link between type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism. The researchers recommend that all patients who have type 2 diabetes should be given a thyroid profile—similar to the recommendation for patients who have type 1 diabetes.

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  • Tamez-Pérez HE, Martínez E, Quintanilla-Flores DL et al. The rate of primary hypothyroidism in diabetic patients is greater than in the non-diabetic population. An observational study [published online ahead of print December 26, 2011]. Med Clin (Barc). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22204860. Accessed January 16, 2012.