Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Diet and Exercise Can Cause a Decline in Harmful Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines

If a person is obese, most health experts would probably agree that losing weight might improve the individual's health. But none of these experts would suggest that they know all the reasons for the health improvement. However, experts are learning more about adipose cells and how they can do harm to the body.

Adipose cells are known to secrete substances called cytokines. Some of the cytokines are pro-inflammatory. And inflammation can be detrimental to a person's health. Therefore, because of pro-inflammatory cytokines, someone with excess adipose cells -- such as an obese individual -- is at a higher risk than normal of experiencing health related problems. A recent study was undertaken to determine if increased exercise and a healthy diet could cause a decline in pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines can be anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory. As stated above, some of the cytokines that adipose cells secrete are known to be pro-inflammatory. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) represent known pro-inflammatory substances.

The pro-inflammatory study mentioned above was done by scientists at the University of California. Study participants were breast cancer survivors with an average age of 56. The study, which lasted 16 weeks, promoted an increase in physical activity and a healthy diet. With the diet and exercise intervention, there was a lowering of the levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha, and the study participants lost weight.IL-6 and TNF-alpha are important because these cytokines are felt to be associated with cancer, insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome.

Although the levels of other cytokines, including interleukin-8 (IL-8), were not drastically affected by exercise and diet, the study's results add support to the belief that diet and exercise can lead to weight loss which can reduce the production of harmful pro-inflammatory substances in the body. The study results should bolster bariatricians' and bariatric surgeons' dedication to helping their patients lose weight.

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