Attention women: Menopause takes a toll on your liver, too

Today, let’s shift our focus just a bit. In light of the new research I shared with you yesterday on fatty liver disease, I’ll be sending another urgent warning. But this time, to a much different demographic: menopausal women. 

As it turns out, fatty liver disease is now on the list of risks that accompany this particular change of life. And just like osteoporosis and heart disease, it’s a potentially deadly one, too 

Menopause turns the tables 

A recent review published in the journal Endocrinology looked at more than 60 different studies. Researchers found that, while younger women tend to have a lower rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than men, this protection completely disappears after menopause.  

In fact, not only do postmenopausal women have higher risk of both NAFLD and liver scarring compared to premenopausal women, but older women with fatty liver also face a higher risk of death than men.  

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how to explain this abrupt shift. But experiments suggest that it’s probably due to the drop in estrogen—and that lifestyle factors likely heighten the danger.  

So it’s safe to say, this is a risk all older women need to know about.  

NAFLD can easily progress to a more lethal condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)— the fancy term for an inflamed liver. Unlike fatty liver, NASH can impact your liver function, leading to cirrhosis and potentially cancer. 

Once fatty liver disease progresses to NASH, there may be no saving your liver at all. In fact, it’s the No. 1 reason for liver transplantation among women.  

Even mild liver disease kills 

Of course, it’s not just NASH that women with fatty liver need to worry about. Because another recent study revealed marked increases in death risk, even among patients with mild NAFLD. 

Researchers compared more than 10,000 Swedish subjects with confirmed NAFLD diagnoses to matched controls from the general population. And they found that NAFLD was associated with higher mortality across the board—even at its earliest stages. 

Cancer and cirrhosis accounted for most of this increase. (Heart-related deaths, meanwhile, were relatively modest.) Nevertheless, NAFLD patients were nearly twice as likely to die of any cause—with actual risk varying according to the severity of their condition. 

Now for the good news: There’s a lot that older women can do to dodge this bullet—including biodentical hormone replacement therapy. But whether you’re a menopausal woman or a 20-something man, kicking sugar is always the first step.  

For more simple, common sense strategies to keep your liver in tip-top shape, check out the feature in the latest issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Four simple ways to fight fatty liver disease and slash your risk of early death”). 

Subscribers have access to that article—along with everything else I’ve ever written on the subject in my archives. So if you haven’t yet, as always, consider signing up today. 


“Postmenopausal women at risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, review suggests.” Science Daily, 08/17/2020. (