November 6, 2017 – Aging and Thyroid


Anchor lead: Can a lower thyroid hormone level actually be beneficial? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Many people are diagnosed with inadequate thyroid hormone levels as they age, but now research by Jenna Mammen, an endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, is beginning to offer another interpretation.

Mammen: What we do see is that in the people we’ve recruited who are 80 year olds their thyroid function in general is less active than people we recruit in their 70s. Even though the people in their 70s travel on a nice steady path and the people in their 80s travel on a nice steady path the older population is enriched for people with slightly lower thyroid function. So it’s an indirect evidence that maybe higher TSHs in older people are not disease related and shouldn’t be treated.  :30

Mammen says a whole constellation of observations of aging people has caused many physicians to step back and examine what constitutes normal aging and what might even be beneficial. She says studies from animals clearly demonstrate that lower metabolic rates in aging animals translates to longer lifespans. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.