The thyroid gland is very important and influences most of the metabolic processes in the body. It is a butterfly shaped gland located on the front of your neck. It lies just underneath your Adam’s apple, in front of your windpipe. Thyroid disorders can cause an abnormal production of thyroid hormones, for instance thyrotropin (TSH) or thyroxine (T4). The disorder can range from a small goiter (enlarged gland) that is harmless, to cancer, which can be life-threatening.

Altered Thyroid Function: Hyper and Hypo – Thyroidism

If the body is producing too much of the thyroid hormone, it results in hyperthyroidism.

  • It is most often caused by an overactive thyroid nodule or Graves disease.

If the body is producing too little of the thyroid hormone, it results in hypothyroidism.

  • It is most often caused by autoimmune disease inflicted thyroid damage.

Age is a factor – thyroid disorders

A 2012 study at the University of Lodz demonstrated that the prevalence of thyroid diseases differs with age. Morphological and physiological changes of the thyroid gland have been previously observed with ageing. The researchers observed that altered thyroid function, changes in the level of thyroid hormones, could contribute to extended longevity.

The first study to reveal that elevated TSH levels, caused by a genetic mutation, contributed to extended lifespans was published in 2009 at the University of Kansas Medical Centre. The study was conducted among a population of Ashkenazi Jews. Subsequent studies, among other populations, also revealed a connection between thyroid hypofunction and exceptional familial longevity.

Thyroid hormones are crucial in influencing growth, development, metabolism and the body temperature. Adequate thyroid hormone is essential during infancy for development of the brain.

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