women 4 hope

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New Study: A Virus Could Be Causing An Increase In Obesity.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on August 23, 2007

In health and weight loss news…

Could a virus be causing an increasing in obesity?

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) — New research is bolstering the theory that obesity may stem, a least in part, from a common virus — one that helps create new, heftier fat cells.

The roots of obesity are probably complex and various, the U.S. team stressed. However, their lab tests showed that exposure to adenovirus-36 (Ad-36), which causes respiratory and eye infections, also causes stem cells to develop into fat cells.

This is the first time anyone has identified a viral “fattening effect” in humans, said lead researcher Dr. Magdalena Pasarica, an obesity researcher with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

In the new study, “we took this a step further, and showed for the first time that Ad-36 stimulates human adult stem cells to become pre-fat cells and store more fat,” said Pasarica.

Nevertheless, the possibility that a virus helps drive some, if not all, cases of obesity raises the notion of a vaccine or anti-viral drug that could be developed to target such infections and fight off fat, the team said.

The potential treatment benefit could be enormous, as underscored by recent U.S. National of Institute of Health (NIH) statistics indicating that 97 million American adults are currently either overweight or obese. Excess weight gain exacerbates risks for many health complications, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

By the end of that period, most of the infected cells infected with Ad-36 had developed into so-called “pre-fat” cells, but the uninfected cells did not.

The more virus they inserted into the cells, the greater the fat growth observed, the researchers said. This effect was evident among tissue taken from both men and women.

In addition, the virally-exposed pre-fat cells were found to collect fat at a faster than normal rate, resulting in a double-whammy effect — more, and bigger fat cells. — read full article

In a related story…

BOSTON (Reuters) – Gastric bypass surgery not only helps obese people drop weight and look better, it also helps them live significantly longer, according to two reports published on Wednesday.

The studies in the New England Journal of Medicine confirm what doctors had long suspected but never proved.

The years gained are significant, with lifespan prolonged by up to 40 percent and rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease all lower.

“The question as to whether intentional weight loss improves life span has been answered, and the answer appears to be a resounding yes,” Dr. George Bray of Louisiana State University wrote in a commentary.

More than 30 percent of the U.S. population is now considered obese, with severely obese people tending to die five to 20 years earlier than people of healthy weight. — read full article

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