Increased waist circumference is independently associated with hypothyroidism in Mexican Americans: replicative evidence from two large, population-based studies.
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BACKGROUND: Mexican Americans are at an increased risk of both thyroid dysfunction and metabolic syndrome (MS). Thus it is conceivable that some components of the MS may be associated with the risk of thyroid dysfunction in these individuals. Our objective was to investigate and replicate the potential association of MS traits with thyroid dysfunction in Mexican Americans. METHODS: We conducted association testing for 18 MS traits in two large studies on Mexican Americans - the San Antonio Family Heart Study (SAFHS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-10. A total of 907 participants from 42 families in SAFHS and 1633 unrelated participants from NHANES 2007-10 were included in this study. The outcome measures were prevalence of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism and thyroid function index (TFI) - a measure of thyroid function. For the SAFHS, we used polygenic regression analyses with multiple covariates to test associations in setting of family studies. For the NHANES 2007-10, we corrected for the survey design variables as needed for association analyses in survey data. In both datasets, we corrected for age, sex and their linear and quadratic interactions. RESULTS: TFI was an accurate indicator of clinical thyroid status (area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve to detect clinical hypothyroidism, 0.98) in both SAFHS and NHANES 2007-10. Of the 18 MS traits, waist circumference (WC) showed the most consistent association with TFI in both studies independently of age, sex and body mass index (BMI). In the SAFHS and NHANES 2007-10 datasets, each standard deviation increase in WC was associated with 0.13 (p<0.001) and 0.11 (p<0.001) unit increase in the TFI, respectively. In a series of polygenic and linear regression models, central obesity (defined as WC102cm in men and 88cm in women) was associated with clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism independent of age, sex, BMI and type 2 diabetes in both datasets. Estimated prevalence of hypothyroidism was consistently high in those with central obesity, especially below 45y of age. CONCLUSIONS: WC independently associates with increased risk of thyroid dysfunction. Use of WC to identify Mexican American subjects at high risk of thyroid dysfunction should be investigated in future studies.