Study: Under active thyroid may be better for elderly

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Seniors with normally functioning thyroids may die earlier and suffer more adverse effects than peers who have under active thyroids, according to Dutch researchers.

"Contrary to general expectation, the clinical implications of subclinical thyroid dysfunction are not as grave," said study author Dr. Jacobijn Gussekloo, an associate professor of gerontology and geriatrics at Leiden University Medical Center. "This definitely diminishes the 'need' for screening and treatment. "Let's rethink the whole idea of screening for subclinical hypothyroidism in very old people, as this appears to have little consequence."

Gussekloo's study results appear in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. An under active thyroid gland, also called subclinical hypothyroidism, that does not result in symptoms, is so common it may affect 1 in 5 women age 60 or older, according to an accompanying editorial in Health Affairs.