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Tummy Fat May Threaten Women's Bones
Date:11/30/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Not only does extra weight around the middle increase a woman's risk of heart disease and diabetes, new research suggests it also ups a woman's risk of developing osteoporosis.

In a study of 50 premenopausal women of various sizes, Harvard researchers found that women who had more fat around the abdomen were more likely to have lower bone mineral density, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis.

"All fat isn't the same. Tummy fat has a damaging effect on bone health," said the study's lead author, Dr. Miriam Bredella, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Bredella was slated to present the findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

As many as 10 million Americans, most of them women, have osteoporosis, according to the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Another 34 million Americans have low bone mass, putting them at risk of developing osteoporosis, reports NIAMS.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include a deficiency in estrogen, a diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D, eating disorders, certain medications, a sedentary lifestyle, drinking too much alcohol and smoking, according to NIAMS.

But extra weight was previously believed to somewhat protect against bone loss, said Bredella.

The average body mass index (BMI) of the women recruited for the study was about 30, with scores ranging from 19 to 46. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All of the women underwent a special imaging technique called MRI spectroscopy that allowed the researchers to accurately
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