Monday, November 5, 2012

Correlation or Causation?

Obesity also influences sleepiness. Obese people often report feeling
sleepier than their leaner counterparts. For a long time it was believed
this was due to sleep apnea, a condition-common in the overweight-in
which a person stops breathing repeatedly while sleeping.

But Alexandros Vgontzas, a sleep specialist at Penn State University,
and others have found that the obese sleep worse and report being sleepy
in the daytime-to the point of falling asleep at work or while
driving-regardless of whether they have sleep apnea.

Excess fat doesn't just disrupt normal bodily function; it can make
other diseases worse.

For instance, a study published earlier this month in the journal Cancer
Research demonstrated that, in mice, cancer-tumor cells appear to
recruit fat stem cells to help them grow. Fat releases molecules that
induce new blood vessels to grow, which then feed the tumor. Some fat
stem cells also travel to the site of the tumor and merge with it.

Earlier research has suggested that obese people are more likely to get
cancer, or see some cancers progress faster, but it wasn't clear whether
the excess fat or lifestyle issues were to blame, said the University of
Texas' Dr. Kolonin, an author of last week's paper.

Is it the fat that causes the problems?  Or, are the foods that make us fat making us sick, too?

In a way, the answer does not matter.  Carrying lots of body fat isn't always a sign of illness, but usually, it is - the condition isn't most serious due to the appearance issues, it's about feeling alive - not just being alive.

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