Belly fat linked to heart, cancer risk
Packing away extra fat in your belly could raise your risk of developing heart disease and cancer. In a new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, ectopic fat – the kid that is highly visible around the midsection – might explain why some people have an increased risk of disease and death associated with obesity. Compared to those who have similar BMI but carry their weight in other parts of their bodies, those with “pear shapes” are at higher risk, the research concluded.
This study used data collected from the Framingham Heart Study, which followed 3,086 participants for up to seven years. Their average age was 50, and half were women. In physical exams, the study used CT scans to assess fat around the waist, around the heart and around the aorta. During the follow-up, there were 90 heart-related events, 141 cases of cancer and 71 deaths from all causes. When the data was analyzed, the researchers learned that abdominal fat was most often linked to heart disease and cancer.
Though the researchers didn't necessarily investigate why belly fat raised risks, they hypothesized that belly fat is indicative of fat wrapped around the internal organs. Given the widespread obesity epidemic, the finding may help guide nutritional and exercise recommendations.