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High androgen levels protect against hypothyroidism

Journal article
Authors Johanna Schmidt
Eva Dahlgren
Inger Bryman
K. Berntorp
Penelope Trimpou
Lars Wilhelmsen
Kerstin Landin-Wilhelmsen
Published in Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Volume 96
Issue 1
Pages 39-46
ISSN 0001-6349
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Pages 39-46
Language en
Keywords Androgens, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, Turner syndrome, polycystic-ovary-syndrome, term-follow-up, subclinical hypothyroidism, cardiovascular-disease, turner-syndrome, risk-factors, postmenopausal, women, thyroid-dysfunction, age, autoimmunity, Obstetrics & Gynecology, kahashi k, 1994, human reproduction, v9, p2255, aub jj, 1992, american journal of medicine, v92, p631, iovato l, 1993, journal of endocrinological investigation, v16, p384
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


IntroductionHypothyroidism is a common disorder, appearing mainly in women although less frequently found in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The objective was to test the hypothesis that hyperandrogenism might protect against hypothyroidism. Material and methodsThe data from three prospective follow-up studies (up to 21years) and one register study were compared: women with PCOS (Rotterdam criteria), n=25, women with Turner syndrome, n=217, a random population sample of women, n=315, and men, n=95 (the WHO MONICA study). Findings were to be verified or rejected in all females, n=553 716, from the same region. The proportion of hypothyroidism was calculated and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO) in serum were measured. ResultsHypothyroidism at >50years of age was found in 8% of women with PCOS, 4% in men (PCOS vs. men; ns), 43% of women with Turner syndrome, irrespective of karyotype (p<0.001 vs. PCOS), and in 17% of postmenopausal women in the population (p<0.01 vs. PCOS). Elevated TPO were similar in PCOS and women and men in the population but higher in Turner syndrome. Hypothyroidism increased with age in all groups except PCOS women and men. In the register study, hypothyroidism was less common in women with PCOS >25years (5.5%) than in women without PCOS (6.8%) from the same region (p<0.01). ConclusionsHypothyroidism was less frequently seen in women with PCOS and in men compared with women in the general population and among women with Turner syndrome. This was not explained by altered autoimmunity or the Y-chromosome. Androgens seem to protect against hypothyroidism.

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