Is hypothyroidism linked to high cholesterol?
I also have an underactive thyroid, for which I take Synthroid. I have read in different medical books that hypothyroid disease is a cause of high cholesterol. I am trying to eat right (fruits and vegetables, no red meat, low salt and no cheese). I exercise. Is there anything else I can do to help this serious problem? Please help me!
DEAR READER: Hypothroidism causes decreased metabolic activity and has been linked with elevated blood levels of cholesterol, and particularly in those people without a previous history of hypercholesterolemia. It is believed if the elevated levels are due to hypothyroidism, an improvement will be noted after hormone treatment is begun.
In January 2011, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) released the results of a survey on the thyroid/cholesterol relation. They reported a new survey found that fewer than half the adults diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia knew whether they had ever even been tested for thyroid disease, despite the well-documented connection between the two conditions. Following diet, thyroid disease is the most common secondary cause of high cholesterol levels. If there is a decrease in the body's ability to metabolize cholesterol, an excess of cholesterol in the blood may occur. If the thyroid gland is underactive and producing too little thyroid hormone, metabolism slows and can have a direct bearing on the body's ability to metabolize blood cholesterol. Once treated, symptoms can be relieved and the patient's quality of life can be improved.
The New York Times ran an article about the dilemma on Feb. 21 of this year. In part, the article stressed low thyroid levels being linked with a greater risk for high triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol levels. It went on to state the treatment of hypothyroidism can significantly reduce cholesterol levels, but research is still mixed on whether mild hypothyroidism is even associated with unhealthy cholesterol levels.
It appears to me that routine lab testing -- including thyroid and cholesterol levels -- is critical because from all I read, it appears we commonly fail to test for both conditions; yet once thyroid medication is introduced and a connection is made, things should level off. You are on the right track by modifying your diet and exercising. Avoid processed cold cuts, kielbasa, sausage, fried foods, hot dogs and ham. I'm reluctant to mention eggs, since it appears every other week a new report bashes or endorses eggs as being good for us. Apart from the steps you are taking, over-the-counter remedies might include niacin or supplements containing plant sterols and stanols for helping to lower your cholesterol.
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Dr. Peter H. Gott is a retired physician and the author of several books, including "Live Longer, Live Better," "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet" and "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook," which are available at most bookstores or online. His website is www.AskDrGottMD.com
Copyright 2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
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