In people with obesity and obesity, fat around the stomach may not be the only thing to worry about. A new study from Thursday seems to show that fat can also accumulate in a person's airways. The discovery may explain why some health issues, such as asthma, are more common or worse in overweight and obese people.
Researchers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada have teamed up for the study. They examined data from an earlier project that collected lung tissue samples from people in Alberta, Canada, who were diagnosed with asthma and recently died. This kit included both people who died of asthma and people who died from unrelated causes. They then compared these samples to a control group of asthmatics who had died for other reasons.
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There were various theories to explain why people who are overweight or obese often have more asthma or have worse asthma symptoms. Some have argued that excess fat can physically constrict the lungs, making it even harder for them to work when someone has an asthma attack. Others have suggested that chronic inflammation associated with obesity affects a person's likelihood or severity of asthma, as it is also often caused by inflammation.
According to the authors, their results do not exclude these theories. The study published Thursday in the European Respiratory Journal could add a new explanation to the list.
"We have found that excess fat accumulates in the airway walls where it occupies space and appears to increase inflammation in the lungs," said co-author Peter Noble, Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia Perth, in a statement of the publisher of the study. "We believe this results in airway thickening that limits airflow into and out of the lungs and that may explain, at least in part, an increase in asthma symptoms."
Go in search of fat in the lungs of humans. However, conditions associated with obesity and fat buildup in other organs are known, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease .
However, much more research needs to be done at this point to confirm this connection. The authors state that a study has already been conducted on the search for adipose tissue in the lungs of living humans. Future research could also look at whether weight loss can reduce people's severity or asthma risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million US adults and children in the US currently suffer from asthma, more than two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese .