Obesity and Thyroid Function

leonor-corsino-md-face-mhsBy: Leonor Corsino, MD, FACE, MHS, Endocrinologist, Duke Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. The thyroid is an endocrine gland, located at the base of the neck, responsible for producing thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate the body’s energy use as well as the function of the brain, heart, muscles and other organs to make sure they are properly functioning.

Research has shown individuals suffering with obesity are potentially at an increased risk for developing autoimmune thyroid disease as well as thyroid cancer. On the other hand, thyroid malfunction is usually cited as a potential cause of obesity, but this remains very controversial.

A research study looked at weight loss surgery and its effect on thyroid function for individuals with morbid obesity. Results found that in a small group of patients treated with a thyroid hormone before surgery, 43.5% had improvement with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) after surgery. If you are obese and have a thyroid problem, talk to your doctor to see if weight loss surgery is right for you.

For more information about weight loss surgery at Duke, attend a free seminar. Register at www.DukeWLS.org.

Raftopoulos Y, et al. Improvement of hypothyroidism after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for morbid obesity. Obes Surg. 2004 Apr;14(4):509-13.

Padwal R. et al. A systematic review of drug absorption following bariatric surgery and its theoretical implications. Obes Rev. 2010 Jan;11(1):41-50


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