PURPOSE: The extent to which smoking is associated with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), and free triiodothyronine (FT3) when taking account of clinical variables including alcohol consumption is unclear. We aimed to determine associations of TSH, FT4, and FT3 levels with current smoking.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was performed in 5766 euthyroid participants (Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease cohort). Current smoking was determined by self-report, categorized as never, former, and current (≤20 and >20 cigarettes per day). Smoke exposure was determined by urinary cotinine.
RESULTS: Current smoking of ≤20 and >20 cigarettes per day was associated with lower TSH and higher FT3 levels. FT4 levels were higher in subjects smoking <20 cigarettes per day vs. never and former smokers. Current smokers also consumed more alcohol. Multivariable linear regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, anti-TPO autoantibody positivity, alcohol consumption, and other variables demonstrated that lower TSH, higher FT4 and higher FT3 were associated with smoking ≤20 cigarettes per day vs. subjects who never smoked (P < 0.001, P = 0.018, and P < 0.001, respectively) without a further significant incremental effect of smoking >20 cigarettes per day. In agreement, TSH was inversely, whereas FT4 and FT3 levels were positively associated with urinary cotinine (P < 0.001 for each). In contrast, alcohol consumption >30 g per day conferred higher TSH and lower FT3 levels.
CONCLUSIONS: Cigarette smoking is associated with modestly higher FT4 and FT3, and lower TSH levels, partly opposing effects of alcohol consumption.