This week, we released a new 23andMe+ report Powered by 23andMe Research on Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition that leads to damage to the thyroid gland and a decline in the production of thyroid hormones.
For those with Hashimoto’s disease, the damage to the thyroid often leads to thyroid hormone deficiency, known as hypothyroidism.
Understanding Hashimoto’s disease
The thyroid is a small gland in the lower part of the neck just in front of the trachea. The gland produces thyroid hormones that help regulate such things as our metabolism, heart rate and body temperature. The overproduction or underproduction of those hormones can lead to a host of problems.
In the case of Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto thyroiditis, the body’s own immune system triggers inflammation of the thyroid. This damages the thyroid and over time it can’t produce enough hormones to properly regulate these bodily functions. This is known as hypothyroidism.
In some cases, the inflammation of the thyroid might also lead to noticeable swelling in the lower neck, which is called a goiter.
It’s estimated that about five percent of the population in the US have hypothyroidism. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.
A New Report
23andMe’s new Hashimoto’s disease report is powered by data from people who have consented to participate in 23andMe research. It uses machine learning techniques to estimate an individual’s likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
This estimate is made using a statistical model that includes 11,786 genetic markers associated with Hashimoto’s disease, as well as information on an individual’s ethnicity and birth sex. See our white paper to learn more about the science behind the report.
Beyond genetics, there are other factors that influence a person’s likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease. There’s medical consensus that a healthy lifestyle promotes a healthier immune system and thyroid. So, a balanced diet with healthy levels of vitamins and minerals is important for keeping one’s thyroid healthy, as is regular exercise and sleep.
Hashimoto’s Disease Symptoms
For those with Hashimoto’s disease, the symptoms can vary between people and change over time as the thyroid produces fewer hormones.
Some of the more common symptoms are profound fatigue, a sensitivity to cold, stiffness in the joints or muscle pain. In addition, those with the condition may also gain weight or deal with constipation. Many also suffer from depression.
Managing Hashimoto’s Disease
Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease typically involves the use of thyroid hormone supplements. This can help alleviate many of the symptoms, and it can reduce the risk of developing some long-term problems with the disease.
However, left untreated, hypothyroidism from the condition can lead to other health problems. Some of those problems include heart disease, complications in pregnancy and reproductive dysfunctions.
If you have concerns about Hashimoto’s disease, talk to a healthcare professional.
23andMe’s new Hashimoto’s disease report (powered by 23andMe Research) is available to 23andMe+ members. To view your report, go here.
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