I lost my mother suddenly to late-stage NASH when she was only 62 years old. The search for answers and meaning has led me to working with the American Liver Foundation and starting this blog. One thing that has become increasingly clear to me was that my mom’s decades of hypothyroidism could have been a major cause of her progression to NASH. Now, a new meta-study examining 18 years of data has concluded that those patients with primary hypothyroidism are at a 42% increased risk for developing NAFLD, the precursor to NASH.
There have been several studies over the years, but not all of them have been able to link the thyroid to fatty liver disease. Several notable studies found very positive correlations. A 2012 study found not only a higher correlation with hypothyroidism and NAFLD, but an even stronger yet link to patients with NASH. This was recently backed up by a 2017 published study that found a fairly staggering 61% increased risk for developing NASH.
These studies are not all that surprising, as hypothyroidism has long history of being associated with diabetes and insulin conditions. There also is a strong correlation between weight-gain & obesity with hypothyroidism. Interestingly, it is in somewhat of a chicken or egg scenario now as research cannot conclusively determine whether hypothyroidism is a cause of obesity, or the result of it. Newer bodies of research tend to be focusing on the latter hypothesis.
What seems to be emerging as the consensus is that if you are overweight and diagnosed with hypothyroidism that you are at increased risk for developing liver conditions that can lead to NAFLD, NASH, Diabetes, and more.
Hypothyroidism should be treated as yet another early warning sign of serious liver ailments.