Hormones from fat cells cause damage throughout our bodies
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, February 22, 2013
2/22/13 at 5:36 AM
Dear Doctor K: Why is abdominal fat worse for your health than fat around the hips and thighs?
Dear Reader: When it comes to body fat, location counts. Fat above the waist (the "apple" shape) is much more dangerous than fat in the butt and thighs (the "pear" shape).
In most people, about 90 percent of body fat lies in a layer just beneath the skin. The remaining 10 percent - called visceral fat - lies out of reach, deep within your abdomen. It's found in the spaces surrounding your liver, intestines and other organs. It's also stored in a flap of tissue that lies under your stomach muscles.
Visceral fat is a key player in a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, asthma, and breast and colorectal cancer.
We've always known that fat is composed of billions of cells called fat cells. We used to think that fat was just a layer of insulation to keep heat inside our bodies during cold weather. We didn't think that fat, and fat cells, really did anything.
However, we've discovered that fat cells - particularly fat cells inside the abdomen (visceral fat) - are little hormone factories. They are constantly producing substances that get into the blood and travel to other parts of the body, where they can have profound effects.
For example, some of the hormones produced by fat cells affect your appetite, your metabolism, even your blood pressure. Researchers at Harvard have discovered that visceral fat secretes a molecule that increases insulin resistance (raising the risk of Type 2 diabetes). In addition, visceral fat cells make certain proteins that trigger low-level inflammation. This is a risk factor for heart disease.
You can estimate your visceral fat by measuring your waist circumference. (I've put an illustration explaining how to do this on my website, tulsaworld.com/DrK.) Ideally, waist circumference should be less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106