Fat found in overweight people's lungs

Could your breathing troubles be related to obesity? Click here to find out what some research suggests might be happening

Amanda Goh
4th November 2019
For the first time, researchers in Australia have recently found fatty tissues stored in lungs of mainly obese and overweight people. 52 lung samples were analysed and a correlation was found between the amount of fat found in the lungs and body mass index (BMI).

Fatty build ups in different parts of the body can lead to a variety of problems and illness. If fat builds up around the arteries and heart, it may cause heart problems. The Australian researchers found that if fatty tissues are built up in the lungs in a way similar to how they build around the heart, it may lead to asthma. While obesity and asthma has been known to be related, scientists have not been able to understand this correlation until now.

Asthma is a condition in which airways narrow and produce mucus, making it difficult to breathe. This also leads to coughing and wheezing.

According to the European Respiratory Journal, published on 17 October 2019, the co-author Peter Noble stated in his study that not only does the weight in obese people put pressure on the lungs and have inflammation in their body, there is also "another mechanism at play". Noble stated that "We've found that excess fat accumulates in the airway walls where it takes up space and seems to increase inflammation within the lungs". The researchers had analysed this by sampling more than 1,000 lung airways.

Going forward, the researchers are looking for ways to measure and observe the fatty tissue in the lungs. They strive to further confirm the findings of this study and to find out whether this can be reversed.

The President of the European Respiratory Society, Professor Thierry Troosters, stated that these are key findings that allow more understanding of the relationship between body weight and asthma. "The observation points at true airway changes that are associated with obesity.

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