Add this to the list of insidious places that fat can accumulate: your lungs.
A new study shows for the first time that fat can accumulate in the airways of the lungs of the lungs the authors wrote. The amount of fat accumulated is higher in overweight or obese people than in normal people.
Moreover, the results may explain at least in part why obesity obesity is a risk factor for asthma, according to a study published on Thursday (October 17th) in in the European Respiratory Journal .
The link between obesity and asthma has been known for years, but the cause of the link is not fully understood. Some researchers suggest that being overweight puts pressure on the lungs, making breathing more difficult. Others suggest that obesity can increase inflammation throughout the body, which contributes to asthma.
But the new study "suggests that another mechanism is playing out," study co-author Peter Noble, associate professor at the University of Western Australia in Perth, said in a statement . Fat buildup can alter the structure of people's airways in a way that increases the risk of asthma, the authors said. However, more research is needed to confirm whether adipose tissue in the airways actually contributes to asthma and whether weight loss can reduce the risk of asthma .
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Researchers have been studying respiratory tract changes associated with respiratory diseases when they noticed that their lung samples showed that there was airway fat accumulating in the walls of the respiratory tract lungs, said study leader John Elliott, a senior researcher at Sir Charles Gerdner's Hospital in Perth. Scientists wondered if this fat buildup was related to body weight.
To understand this, Noble, Elliott, and their colleagues analyzed post-mortem airway tissue samples from 52 people, including 16 who died from asthma-related causes, 21 people who had asthma but had died of other causes and 15 people who had no history of asthma before their death.
When researchers used special dyes to analyze tissue samples under a microscope, they saw adipose tissue that had accumulated in the airway walls among people in each of the three groups.
In addition, the amount of fat in the airway walls is related to each person's body mass index (BMI) which means more fat, accumulated in individuals with higher BMIs than those with lower BMIs.
Researchers suggest that fat buildup can lead to airway tightness, which limits airflow, "This could at least partially explain the increase in asthma symptoms," among obese people, Noble says.
"This is an important finding about the relationship between body weight and respiratory disease because it shows how obese or obese can be. It exacerbates symptoms in people with asthma," says Thierry Troosters, President of the European Commission a respiratory company that did not participate in the study . "This goes beyond the simple observation that obese patients should breathe more with activity … the observation points of real changes in the airways that are associated with obesity."
Although the results have yet to be confirmed, doctors must support asthma patients to help them achieve or maintain a healthy weight, he said.
Originally published on Living Science .