Ask a mainstream doctor what causes dementia, and they will likely point their finger at three things: your diet, your stress level, and your genetics. And sure, they aren’t wrong – these three factors can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.
But I’m here to tell you there’s something else you need to look for…
New research shows that a certain condition – common in seniors – can send your Alzheimer’s risk through the roof!
Luckily, there are some easy ways to find out if you have it as well as some ways to prevent it.
Here’s everything you need to know…
I’m talking about hypothyroidism.
This condition occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. It’s common in patients over age 60 and the risk increases with age.
In fact, up to one in four nursing home patients may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism.1
Symptoms include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, and thinning hair.2 And now we know it can also lead to a dramatically increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Increases Your Dementia Risk 80 Percent!
For the study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers analyzed the medical records of 7,843 newly diagnosed dementia patients, looking for a history of either hyperthyroidism – when the thyroid is overactive – or hypothyroidism. Then they compared the study group to another group without dementia.
The results showed that there’s no link between hyperthyroidism and dementia. But the researchers did find 68 people with dementia had hypothyroidism. This may seem like a small number, but when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of dementia – like gender, age, high blood pressure and diabetes – the number increased significantly.
In fact, the research shows that folks over the age of 65 with hypothyroidism were 80 percent more likely to develop dementia!
Next, the scientists focused on the participants already taking hypothyroidism medications. This data revealed that the medicated group was three times more likely to develop dementia than those who did not take medication.
“One explanation for this could be that these people are more likely to experience greater symptoms from hypothyroidism where treatment was needed,” said study author Chien-Hsiang Weng, M.D., MPH, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. But there was a silver lining…
“In some cases, thyroid disorders have been associated with dementia symptoms that can be reversible with treatment,” said Dr. Weng. “While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, people should be aware of thyroid problems as a possible risk factor for dementia and therapies that could prevent or slow irreversible cognitive decline.”3
Are You In Danger Of Thyroid Disease?
If you are unsure about your thyroid health, now is a great time to talk to your doctor about it.
He or she can order blood tests that measure your level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and the thyroid hormone thyroxine. Having low thyroxine and high TSH can indicate that your thyroid is underactive.
TSH tests can also help your doctor know if you suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism, which causes no physical symptoms but still affects your thyroid health.
One word of caution: some medications and supplements – like blood thinners and biotin – can affect THS testing. Be sure to inform your practitioner of your medication and supplement regimen before getting a test.4
If you already have hypothyroidism or are looking to avoid it in the future, one great way to boost your thyroid is through diet. Certain foods contain specific nutrients – like iodine, selenium, and omega-3s – that help with thyroid function. These include seafood, eggs, tree nuts, and seaweed.5
Finally, if you or a loved one is suffering with dementia, get your thyroid checked right away. It’s possible that thyroid disease could be contributing to the symptoms of memory loss and better management will improve memory.