Be Careful What You Touch, It can Make You Fat

by Ann Samuel on  February 18, 2007 at 1:44 PM Research News
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Be Careful What You Touch, It can Make You Fat
It's a scary thought, but the fear has to be dealt with, at least for the health of our unborn babies.

Scientists working for Missouri-Columbia University have come out with disturbing study findings that link obesity to common everyday chemicals, found in plastics and pesticides.

Prof Frederick vom Saal, lead researcher, sounding his views at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, attributed the obesity epidemic sweeping western countries to, in part at least, chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system.

Performing clinical studies on rats, he noticed that pregnant mice when exposed to chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) gave birth to low weight babies. These baby rats then went on to double their weight in 7 days and remained overweight throughout their life.

Saal puts this down to a thrifty phenotype, which gets activated when the unborn fetus is exposed to these chemicals. This alters gene functioning in the body, making it do something akin to grabbing every bite it gets and utilizing it.

When the offspring enters the world of ample food, the genes overplay, resulting in utilizing every bit of food it ingests, and hence causing obesity.

Says vom Saal, "Certain environmental substances called endocrine-disrupting chemicals can change the functioning of a fetus's genes, altering a baby's metabolic system and predisposing him or her to obesity.

"This individual could eat the same thing and exercise the same amount as someone with a normal metabolic system, but he or she would become obese, while the other person remained thin", he adds.

Obesity is a serious problem because it puts people at risk for other problems, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

While the experiment was carried out in animal models, vom Saal draws a parallel to the increase of man-made chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system and rising levels of obesity.

"You inherit genes, but how those genes develop during your very early life also plays an important role in your propensity for obesity and disease. People who have abnormal metabolic systems have to live extremely different lifestyles in order to not be obese because their systems are malfunctioning.

" We need to figure out what we can do to understand and prevent this", concludes vom Saal.

At present there are 85,000 man-made chemicals that we are exposed to everyday and around 1000 are documented to disrupt the endocrine system. One such, bisphenol-A is commonly found in babies' feeding bottles.

A terrifying thought, isn't it?

Source: Medindia

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