Hashimoto Disease (also known as Chronic Lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto syndrome or Hashimoto thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid gland and is one of the most commonly occurring autoimmune conditions. Obesity is also extremely common affecting a third of adults in the U.S. and is increasing every year.
This condition occurs when the thyroid gland is attacked by antibodies which are produced by one’s immune system. Initially, this condition can present with symptoms of increased thyroid activity but eventually results in an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism). In addition, Hashimoto thyroiditis can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland, known as goiter.
This condition occurs more commonly in females, with the chances of developing it increasing with age. It is thought that genetic and environmental factors; such as a high iodine intake through the diet, certain infections and toxins, are associated with the development of Hashimoto Disease.
What is the connection between Obesity and Hashimotos Disease?
Obesity is defined as having an excess of fatty tissue which results in abody mass index (BMI) of more than 30. This condition has been linked to many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Importantly, when obese patients who have autoimmune disease lose weight, there is an improvement in their autoimmune conditions.
Specifically, obese patients are two times more likely to develop Hashimoto thyroiditis, compared with people who are not obese. This increased risk is not limited to adults but children who are obese are at an increased risk of developing Hashimoto Disease. Vice versa, people who have thyroid antibodies (that lead to Hashimoto thyroiditis)are more likely to be obese, compared with people who do not have the antibodies. Thus, it seems that whereas obesity leads to Hashimoto Disease, patients who have Hashimoto thyroiditis or who are at risk of developing Hashimotos Disease are more likely to be obese.
How does obesity increase the chances of developingHashimoto Disease?
The exact link between obesity and Hashimoto’s syndrome is not well known. We do know that fatty tissue plays a major impact on the immune system. It secretes many chemical messengers of the immune system which have a major effect on one’s immunity. These messengers can result in low-grade active inflammation on the tissue and organs of the body, and this can lead to an increase in the chances of developing or worsening of chronic conditions such as coronary artery disease, diabetes and stroke.Leptin is the most important of these messengers because it activates and improves the function of cells, especially T-lymphocytes which are involved in Hashimoto thyroiditis. Increased fatty tissue results in an increased amount of leptin which then results in inflammation and autoimmune damage to the thyroid gland. Therefore, levels of leptin in the bloodstream are found to be higher in obese people. It has been discovered that patients diagnosed with Hashimoto Disease also have increased levels of leptin in their blood. The suggestion then is that leptin plays an important part in the development of Hashimoto thyroiditis in obese patients.
In addition, obese people are more likely to have Vitamin D deficiency. Separately, we know that Vitamin D deficiency is an important risk factor for developing Hashimotos Disease. Thus, it is possible that low vitamin D is the reason why obese people develop Hashimoto thyroiditis.
Obese people are more likely to develop Hashimoto Disease. Thus, if you are obese and have symptoms of hypothyroidism like lethargy, sleep problems, further weight gain, feeling of excessive cold, menstrual irregularities and skin problems, consult your doctor for possible evaluation for Hashimoto thyroiditis.
Sameer Ather is a cardiologist and data scientist based in Birmingham, Alabama. The last many years of my clinical practice, He has seen patients having difficulty navigating the complex world of health care. cardiology fellowship at University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL. He current research focus is to identify heart failure patients who do not benefit from beta-blocker therapy. Visit his website for more information: https://www.xpertdox.com