Thyroid medication use and subsequent development of dementia of the Alzheimer type

J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2010 Mar;23(1):63-9. doi: 10.1177/0891988709342723. Epub 2009 Aug 7.


Associations between medication use and the development of Alzheimer disease have been investigated since the late 1900s. Thyroid hormone supplementation is rarely a studied medication class in this area of research. We examined data from participants enrolled in longitudinal studies at the Washington University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center for associations between thyroid disease, thyroid hormone supplementation therapy, and subsequent development of dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT). Data collected between April 1992 and June 2008 from 499 participants, 184 men and 315 women, were analyzed. Mean age was 76.9 years (SD = 9.2). At baseline, 61 participants reported thyroid medication use and 87 were identified as having a history of thyroid dysfunction. These participants progressed to a DAT diagnosis more rapidly than individuals not taking thyroid medication (hazard ratios [HR]: 1.67, 95% CI: 0.99-2.78, P = .054). Although an interesting trend was seen, baseline thyroid disease was not significantly (P = .093) associated with time to DAT diagnosis. Our findings suggest that utilization of thyroid medication may be associated with the development of DAT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / chemically induced*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / genetics
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Thyroid Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Thyroid Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Thyroid Hormones