Obesity may accelerate liver aging
On top of all of its other harmful effects, obesity may also be a risk factor for premature aging of the liver, according to new research.
Scientists at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles used a tool called an "aging clock," which they developed last year. The tool monitors the DNA methylation process--or the passing of certain chemicals from one group to another--of human organs, tissues and cells; in doing so, it can determine the biological age of the material which it is assessing.
In the study, the researchers collected nearly 1,200 human tissue samples, including 140 liver samples. They also calculated the weight, height and body mass index (BMI) of the subjects from whom the samples were taken.
The researchers found that the individuals with higher BMIs showed more biological aging of their livers, when compared to individuals of the same height but with lower BMIs. Specifically, every 10 BMI units was linked to a 3.3 times higher biological age of the liver.
The study's findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, help explain why people who are obese often also experience early onset of diabetes, liver cancer and other age-related diseases. . According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one-third of American adults have obesity.