Inflammation from fat may explain link between obesity, heart disease

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 18, 2005

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Inflammatory proteins that are produced by the extra fat stored around the waist may explain why obesity can lead to heart disease, according to a study published in this month's American Journal of Physiology -- Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Researchers recruited 20 obese postmenopausal women and measured their weight, fat mass, lean mass, abdominal fat distribution and plasma lipids. The expression of cytokines in the abdominal subcutaneous fat was also determined. High levels of cytokines correlated to the levels of abdominal fat. This measure was also linked to an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome.

Researchers said the results add to the possibility that fat may be an organ that produces proteins and hormones that affect metabolism and health.

"The findings point to a possible treatment target for new drugs," said Barbara Nicklas, PhD, one of the authors and associate professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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