News Wednesday January 4, 2012

Belly fat could increase dementia risk in women

According to research published in the Archives of Neurology a hormone produced as a result of visceral (abdominal) fat, is believed to increase a person’s risk of developing all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The hormone known as adiponectin is derived from visceral fat and sensitizes the body to insulin, is instrumental in metabolising lipids and glucose and has anti-inflammatory properties.

The researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Boston’s Tufts University looked at various compounds found in patient plasma documented in the Framingham Heart Study, which was conducted between 1985 and 1988. Among these compounds was adiponectin.

The study included 840 patients of which 541 were women with a median age of 76 years. These patients were checked on an average of 13 years afterwards, and during this time 159 of them developed dementia.

Their findings showed that, women in particular, with elevated levels of adiponectin appeared to have an increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

"Surprisingly, a higher adiponectin level was found to be a predictor of all-cause and vascular mortality. In concurrence with the mortality findings, the current investigation shows that an elevated adiponectin level is also an independent predictor for all-cause dementia and AD in women,” says the authors of the study.

Visceral obesity is more than just an annoying muffin top or ‘beer belly’, it surrounds the internal organs, and has been linked to many other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancers. It can also cause inflammation of the artery walls and colon. Luckily a healthy diet and the right exercise have been shown to effectively reduce levels of this fat in the body.

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