Scientists try break fat-&-disease link

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Scientists try break fat-&-disease link
Thu, 03-04-2010 - 12:03pm

"Scientists try to break fat-and-disease link

By LAURAN NEERGAARD (AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON — What if you could be fat but avoid heart disease or diabetes? Scientists trying to break the fat-and-disease link increasingly say inflammation is the key.

In the quest to prove it, a major study is under way testing whether an anti-inflammatory drug — an old, cheap cousin of aspirin — can fight the Type 2 diabetes spurred by obesity.

And intriguing new research illustrates how those yellow globs of fat lurking under the skin are more than a storage site for extra calories. They're a toxic neighborhood where inflammation appears to be born.

Diabetes and heart disease usually tag along with extra pounds, a huge risk for the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese. What isn't clear is what sets off the cascade of damage that ends in those illnesses. After all, there are examples of obese people who somehow stay metabolically fit — no high blood pressure or high blood sugar or high cholesterol.

"If fat cells functioned perfectly, you could be as obese as you want and not have heart disease," says Dr. Carey Lumeng of the University of Michigan. "It's something we don't understand, why some people are more susceptible and others are not so susceptible."

Solving that mystery could point to more targeted treatments for obesity's threats than today's effective but hard-to-follow advice to lose weight. The chief suspect: Inflammation that the immune system normally uses to fight infection runs amok with weight gain — simmering inside fat tissue before spreading to harm blood vessels and spur insulin resistance."

(Article continues...)





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