Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who Knew?

New research, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, suggests the fat responsible for producing the pear shape flaunted by celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce may be active in protecting women from diseases by releasing certain hormones.

Buttock and hip fat may protect women against type 2 diabetes, from which more than 1.7 million Australians now suffer, researchers from the Harvard Medical School found.

When buttocks and hip fat from mice was injected into other mice, their bodies easily used the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin and lost weight.

They were also able to make better use of insulin, the main hormone linked to diabetes.

It has long been known by scientists that types of fat can affect a person's health.

People with the apple shape, where fat is stored around the tummy, can be more prone to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Those with pear-shaped bodies, where fat is collected in the buttocks, are less likely to have these disorders.

Researcher Dr Ronald Kahn insisted that not all fat was bad for health.

"The surprising thing was that it wasn't where the fat was located, it was the kind of fat that was the most important variable," he said.

"Even more surprising, it wasn't that abdominal fat was exerting negative effects but that subcutaneous fat was producing a good effect.

"I think it's an important result because not only does it say that not all fat is bad, but I think it points to a special aspect of fat where we need to do more research."

Scientists also monitored the health of the mice given the fat transplants. When it was inserted into the tummy area, the mice lost weight and their fat cells shrank. The researchers will now try to identify the hormones.

"If we can capture those (substances) we might have an opportunity to convert them into drugs or use them as guides to help develop drugs," Dr Kahn said.

By 2031 it is estimated that 3.3 million Australians will have type 2 diabetes. At least seven million are overweight or obese, costing the health system $8 billion a year.


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