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Being Overweight is not good for your Body and Brain, say Researchers

Researchers from the University of Arizona say having a high body mass index, or BMI, can cause inflammation that can impair cognitive functioning in older adults

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In this May 8, 2014 photo, an overweight man wears a shirt patterned after the American flag during a visit to the World Trade Center, in New York. VOA
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  • “The higher your BMI, the more your inflammation goes up,” said Kyle Bourassa, lead author of the study, which is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity
  • The researchers say their study adds to existing literature about inflammation and cognitive decline by showing BMI has a role to play
  • While cognitive decline is normal as one gets older, linking BMI to inflammation could help stave off the worst effects

October 19, 2016: Being overweight is not good for your body, and new research suggests it’s not good for your brain either. Researchers from the University of Arizona say having a high body mass index, or BMI, can cause inflammation that can impair cognitive functioning in older adults.

“The higher your BMI, the more your inflammation goes up,” said Kyle Bourassa, lead author of the study, which is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. “Prior research has found that inflammation, particularly in the brain, can negatively impact brain function and cognition.”

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The conclusions were reached using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which “includes over 12 years’ worth of information on the health, well-being and social and economic circumstances of the English population age 50 and older.”

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They looked specifically at two groups over a six-year period.

“The higher participants’ body mass at the first time point in the study, the greater the change in their CRP levels over the next four years,” Bourassa said. “CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which is a marker in the blood of systemic inflammation in your body. Change in CRP over four years then predicted change in cognition six years after the start of the study. The body mass of these people predicted their cognitive decline through their levels of systemic inflammation.”

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“The findings provide a clear and integrative account of how BMI is associated with cognitive decline through systemic inflammation, but we need to remember that these are only correlational findings,” he said. “Of course, correlation does not equal causation. The findings suggest a mechanistic pathway, but we cannot confirm causality until we reduce body mass experimentally, then examine the downstream effects on inflammation and cognition.”

While cognitive decline is normal as one gets older, linking BMI to inflammation could help stave off the worst effects.

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“If you have high inflammation, in the future we may suggest using anti-inflammatories not just to bring down your inflammation but to hopefully also help with your cognition,” Bourassa said. “Having a lower body mass is just good for you, period. It’s good for your health and good for your brain.” (VOA)

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Overweight in Middle Age Linked to Low Breast Cancer Risk

At ages 25 to 34, each five-unit increase in BMI was linked to 15 per cent lower risk

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Overweight in Middle Age Linked to Low Breast Cancer Risk
Overweight in Middle Age Linked to Low Breast Cancer Risk. Pixabay

While obesity has been shown to increase breast cancer risk in elderly, for younger women the opposite seems to be true. For pre-menopausal women, a higher body fat was linked to lower breast cancer risk, according to researchers.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, showed that there was 23 per cent lower breast cancer risk linked to each five-unit increase in body mass index (BMI) between the ages of 18 and 24.

At ages 25 to 34, each five-unit increase in BMI was linked to 15 per cent lower risk.

There was a 13 per cent lower risk for BMI at ages 35 to 44, and a 12 per cent lower risk for BMI at ages 45 to 54 years.

“We saw a trend where, as BMI went up, cancer risk went down. There was no threshold at which having a higher BMI was linked to lower cancer risk,” said Hazel B. Nichols, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.

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Representational image. Pixabay

The trend could be attributed to multiple factors such as differences in hormones, including estrogen — primary female sex hormone — growth factors, or breast density, Nichols said.

Estrogen has known to be a key driver of breast cancer. But, the small amount of estrogen produced by fat tissue before menopause may help tell the ovaries that they can produce less estrogen and also regulate other hormones or growth factors, Nichols said, adding that after menopause, women with higher adipose tissue have higher estrogen levels and usually a higher breast cancer risk.

“In young women, estrogen is one factor that contributes, but it’s not the whole story,” she noted.

Also Read: Cancer: Salient Features of The Killer Disease

For the study, the team pooled data from 19 different studies to investigate breast cancer risk for a group of 758,592 women who were younger than 55 years.

However, “this study is not a reason to try to gain weight to prevent breast cancer. Heavier women have a lower overall risk of breast cancer before menopause, but there are a lot of other benefits to managing a healthy weight that should be considered,” Nichols noted. (IANS)