July 23, 2005
Question from Basingstoke, United Kingdom:
I am a 25 year old female. I was diagnosed yesterday with hypothyroidism with antibodies of 621 when they should have been under 60. I have been started on thyroxine. The doctor said I am more likely to get diabetes, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders than the general population, but that it still wasn’t common.
I cannot find statistics of my likelihood of getting diabetes, but am guessing it’s really low because most people get diabetes first out of the two, and at a lot younger than the age I am now. Do you know of any such statistics? I had a random fasting blood sugar level of 7.8 mmol/L [140 mg/dl] at the doctor’s a few years back and was called for a repeat test. This came back normal. Every blood test I have had since have shown levels of 4 to 4.8 mmol/L [72 to 86 mg/dl].
Please, could you let me know how likely I am to get diabetes, statistically? I know thew answer will be affected by my genetic makeup etc., but I was just wondering if there is a general answer for the percentage of people who get thyroid problems and then go on to develop diabetes.
Primary hypothyroidism in women is very common. Type 1 diabetes is still very uncommon. Both occur in the same patient because both are considered to be autoimmune disorders. That means that the body’s immune system attacks itself and results in insufficiency of the hormone-producing gland. Although you are at increased risk for diabetes related to the general population (relative risk), you are still at very low risk for having the disease in you (absolute risk). Your absolute risk is still less than 5%.