The Dangers Of Belly Fat

Until midlife, men usually harbor a greater percentage of visceral fat than women do, but the pattern usually reverses as women pass through menopause. Few females seem to escape a midlife waistline expansion as body fat redistributes and visceral fat pushes out our bellies. Even though in my eighth decade I weigh less than I did at age 13, my waist is many inches bigger.

Here’s why visceral fat cells are so important to your well-being. Unlike the cells in subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is essentially an endocrine organ that secretes hormones and a host of other chemicals linked to diseases that commonly afflict older adults. One such substance is called retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) that was found in a 16-year study of nurses to increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. This hazard most likely results from the harmful effects of this protein on insulin resistance, the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and development of the metabolic syndrome, a complex of cardiac risk factors.

The Million Women Study conducted in Britain demonstrated a direct link between the development of coronary heart disease and an increase in waist circumference over a 20-year period. Even when other coronary risk factors were taken into account, the chances of developing heart disease were doubled among the women with the largest waists. Every additional two inches in the women’s waist size raised their risk by 10 percent.

Cancer risk is also raised by belly fat. The chances of getting colorectal cancer were nearly doubled among postmenopausal women who accumulate visceral fat, a Korean study found. Breast cancer risk increases as well. In a study of more than 3,000 premenopausal and postmenopausal women in Mumbai, India, those whose waists were nearly as big as their hips faced a three- to four-times greater risk of getting a breast cancer diagnosis than normal-weight women.

A Dutch study published last year linked both total body fat and abdominal fat to a raised risk of breast cancer. When the women in the study lost weight — about 12 pounds on average — changes in biomarkers for breast cancer, like estrogen, leptin and inflammatory proteins, indicated a reduction in breast cancer risk.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/well/live/belly-fat-health-visceral-fat-waist-cancer.html

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