A beer belly rots your brain even though the beer might not be at fault.
ST. PAUL, Minn. – People with larger stomachs in their 40s are more likely to have dementia when they reach their 70s, according to a study published in the March 26, 2008, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study involved 6,583 people age 40 to 45 in northern California who had their abdominal fat measured. An average of 36 years later, 16 percent of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia. The study found that those with the highest amount of abdominal fat were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest amount of abdominal fat.
So then would belly liposuction reduce your risk of Alzheimer's Disease?
A lot of people are walking around (or sitting) with hazardous bellies.
“Considering that 50 percent of adults in this country have an unhealthy amount of abdominal fat, this is a disturbing finding,” said study author Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, a Research Scientist of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, CA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Research needs to be done to determine what the mechanisms are that link abdominal obesity and dementia.”
Having a large abdomen increased the risk of dementia regardless of whether the participants were of normal weight overall, overweight, or obese, and regardless of existing health conditions, including diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Those who were overweight and had a large belly were 2.3 times more likely to develop dementia than people with a normal weight and belly size. People who were both obese and had a large belly were 3.6 times more likely to develop dementia than those of normal weight and belly size. Those who were overweight or obese but did not have a large abdomen had an 80-percent increased risk of dementia.
This study didn't prove the direction of causation. But the results are highly suggestive.
Yet Seshadri also notes that factors other than fat could be responsible for the results. Whitmer's team controlled for some of these, such as education and rates of other illnesses. But other issues were not taken into account. Overweight people are less likely to exercise, for instance. Physical activity is known to decrease obesity risk, as well as being psychologically beneficial.
Whitmer acknowledges this short-coming, but points out that the dementia rates were greater among those who were not overweight during middle-age, but did have high levels of belly fat. These people are likely to have exercised since their weight was normal, she says, but they still went on to develop cognitive problems.
Pay attention to comments from obesity researcher Rudolph Liebel of Columbia University in this previous post. Note that fat cells are now known to secrete at least a couple of dozen hormones and other signalling compounds. Some of those compounds cross the blood-brain barrier. Fat is not a passive pile of blubber. Belly fat in particular secretes more stuff than other areas of fat. The fat on your belly is sending out messages that are messing up your brain and body.
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