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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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July 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 5)

Hypothyroidism drug isn't working, study finds
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Hypothyroidism drug isn't working, study finds image

The standard drug for a mild underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) doesn't work. Although it's routinely prescribed, levothyroxine is not effective when the condition is sub-clinical, or when there are no obvious symptoms.

It's no better than a placebo, or sugar pill, researchers from the University of Glasgow have discovered after they tested it on a group of 737 patients, with an average age of 74, who had been diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism.

Although the drug did restore normal thyroid function, there were no apparent benefits, and muscle strength, speed of thought, weight or blood pressure were the same whether the person was taking the drug or a placebo.

Despite its ineffectiveness, the drug is given to 90 per cent of women with the condition, making it the most prescribed drug in the US and the third most-prescribed in the UK.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is a common problem of older age and it can contribute to tiredness and lethargy, muscle weakness, slower thought processes, raised blood pressure and weight and circulation problems.


(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2017; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1603825)

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