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Belly fat puts women at risk for osteoporosis
Date:11/30/2010

CHICAGO For years, it was believed that obese women were at lower risk for developing osteoporosis, and that excess body fat actually protected against bone loss. However, a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) found that having too much internal abdominal fat may, in fact, have a damaging effect on bone health.

"We know that obesity is a major public health problem," said the study's lead author, Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Now we know that abdominal obesity needs to be included as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone loss."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 72 million American adults are considered obese. The CDC defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Obesity is associated with many health problems including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea and joint diseases. Yet despite all the health issues, it was commonly accepted that women with increased body weight were at lower risk for bone loss.

But not all body fat is the same. Subcutaneous fat lies just below the skin, and visceral or intra-abdominal fat is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity. Genetics, diet and exercise are all contributors to the level of visceral fat that is stored in the body. Excess visceral fat is considered particularly dangerous, because in previous studies it has been associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Dr. Bredella and colleagues set out to evaluate the abdominal subcutaneous, visceral and total fat, as well as bone marrow fat and bone mineral density, in 50 premenopausal women with a mean BMI of 30. Each woman underwent an MR spectroscopy exam to evaluate the bone marrow fat of the L4, the fourth vertebra in the lumb
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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