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Cedars-Sinai study: Obesity may be linked to microorganisms living in the gut
Date:3/25/2013

LOS ANGELES (EMBARGOED UNTIL 12 A.M. EST ON MARCH 26, 2013) How much a person eats may be only one of many factors that determines weight gain. A recent Cedars-Sinai study suggests that a breath test profile of microorganisms inhabiting the gut may be able to tell doctors how susceptible a person is to developing obesity.

The study, published online Thursday by The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, shows that people whose breath has high concentrations of both hydrogen and methane gasses are more likely to have a higher body mass index and higher percentage of body fat.

"This is the first large-scale human study to show an association between gas production and body weight and this could prove to be another important factor in understanding one of the many causes of obesity", said lead author Ruchi Mathur, MD, director of the Diabetes Outpatient Treatment and Education Center in the Division of Endocrinology at Cedars-Sinai.

The study, which will also appear in JCEM's April 2013 issue, analyzed the breath content of 792 people. Based on the breath tests, four patterns emerged. The subjects either had normal breath content, higher concentrations of methane, higher levels of hydrogen, or higher levels of both gases. Those who tested positive for high concentrations of both gases had significantly higher body mass indexes and higher percentages of body fat.

The presence of methane is associated with a microorganism called Methanobrevibacter smithii. This organism is responsible for the majority of methane production in the human host.

"Usually, the microorganisms living in the digestive tract benefit us by helping convert food into energy. However, when this particular organism M. smithii becomes overabundant, it may alter this balance in a way that causes someone to be more likely to gain weight," Mathur said.

These organisms scavenge hydrogen from
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Contact: Nicole White
nicole.white@cshs.org
310-423-5215
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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