Low thyroid hormone may be linked to longevity

According to a new study conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, a less active thyroid may mean more years added to your life, Reuters reports.

The researchers studied 859 siblings from 421 families, whose members are characterized by longevity. As reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, their average age of 93 years old far exceeds the current U.S. life expectancy of about 78 years.

After rating the lifespan of these siblings' parents, the team analyzed the thyroid hormones in their blood. The two appeared to be strongly linked, supporting previous findings of heritability in decreased thyroid functioning and its relationship to long life.

"These data underpin the need for a dedicated clinical trial to test whether treating mild decreases in thyroid function with thyroid hormone supplementation is effective in the elderly," Diana van Heemst of Leiden University Medical Center, told the news source.

The researchers suggest that the lower activity of thyroid hormones could shift the body's energy expenditure away from growth and proliferation in favor of protective maintenance, keeping the body healthier longer. However, other factors could be associated with both thyroid function and longevity, removing credit from the thyroid, they report.

According to the Mayo Clinic, women over the age of 50 are more likely to have low levels of thyroid hormone.