Thyroid Drug Increases Risk of Bone Fractures in Women

June 14, 2011 by  
Filed under featured, Health, Womens Health

Many women suffer from underactive thyroid, but a common drug taken to relieve it can have serious effects on bone strength according to a recent study for the British Medical Journal.

Hypothyroidism is a fairly common disorder, caused by low levels of thyroid hormones. With the availability of either natural hormones taken from animals, or synthetic hormones (levothyroxine), doctors now treat the disorder by replacing the missing thyroid hormones. A found that elderly people with high levels of the artificial hormone may have an increased risk of bone fracture.

Hormones secreted by the thyroid gland are critically important to health because they affect the metabolism of every cell in the body. Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of glucose to release energy, as well as affecting protein synthesis and metabolism of fats.

Because the body creates thyroid hormones by using iodine, a healthy level of iodine in the diet is important because as well as being vital for general metabolism, there is also evidence that iodine in the diet can help in avoiding cancer.

The study was done at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, where researchers looked at 213,500 people aged 70 or over. Patients in the study received at least one prescription for levothyroxine (the synthetic hormone) between 2002 and 2007. Results showed a significantly increased risk of fracture in people who were either taking or had recently taken levothyroxine.

As people grow older, there is a greater likelihood of diminished levels of thyroid hormones, with possibly as many as 20% of older people receiving treatment for hypothyroidism. But as doctors treat the disease by administering hormones, one of the possible side effects is a decrease in bone density. In some cases, bone density may reach the point that broken bones become more likely.

A researcher from the British Medical Journal study said that the condition needs more study, as not enough is known about the link between thyroid hormone and bone density in the elderly. A study published in 2010 on the link in elderly men did not find a decrease in bone density, but a study the same year in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism did find such a link in postmenopausal women. A 2010 review article looking at drug-induced osteoporosis also noted high doses of thyroxine as a possible cause of low bone density in postmenopausal women.

Patients who are receiving hormone therapy should have hormone levels checked regularly, to see that levels do not grow too high, or for that matter too low. Some patients may not wish to take hormones acquired from animals, but the synthetic form of the hormone, levothyroxine, like any artificial drug, has the potential for side effects.

If you are taking a thyroid supplement then discuss with your doctor as to whether you would benefit from taking a different form.

Always tired? Check your thyroid

May 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

We all get tired from time to time, but if you feel your energy levels are on a permanent low and you tend to nod off the minute you are sitting quietly without doing anything then you might have a thyroid malfunction. Your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status so if it feels heavy or tired, especially in the afternoon that might alert you to a potential problem here. Apart from the symptoms above, you may also notice forgetfulness, depression, constipation, changes in weight and appetite, greater sensitivity to cold, dry, rough or scaly skin, dry, tangled hair and hair loss, particularly from the outer part of your eyebrows, and brittle nails.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped, gland that produces the hormones that influence virtually every organ, tissue and cell in your body. Your doctor can carry out a simple test to see if your thyroid isn’t working properly, but they often prescribe the use of synthetic thyroid hormone. If you think you might be at risk, it could be worth trying some alternative methods first to see if they make a difference.

Natural Methods to Restore Your Thyroid:
As usual, it starts with a healthy diet, and you need to ensure you have adequate amounts of iodine and selenium, which provide the raw materials for your thyroid gland to work better. Natural food sources of iodine include cod, tinned tuna in oil, milk, eggs, baked potatoes (eat the skin) and turkey breast.

Selenium can be found in many of our foodstuffs including garlic, broccoli, onions, walnuts, brazil nuts, salmon, halibut, brown rice, chicken breast meat, wholemeal bread, and milk.

The next key element is to include plenty of omega-3 fats not least because the human brain is more than 60% structural fat, just as your muscles are made of protein and your bones are made of calcium. But it’s not just any fat that our brains are made of, and unfortunately we tend to eat far more of the man-made trans- fats and excessive amounts of saturated fats and vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids, all of which interfere which our body’s attempt to utilize the tiny amount of Omega-3 fats that it gets. This is particularly important for children as if they do not have sufficient Omega-3 essential fatty acids they are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioural problems.

So what should you be eating to get good levels of omega-3? Not dissimilar to some of the good iodine sources, you need flax seed oil and walnuts, then organic meat, fish, olive oil, fruits and green leafy vegetables.

Finally, get sufficient sleep, and in a completely dark bedroom, and tackle any stress in your life. The vast majority of people’s thyroid glands become impaired as a result of weak adrenal glands, due particularly to emotional stress, and the thyroid gland tries to compensate for this and eventually just gives up and stops working.