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What is Belly Fat and Why is it So Dangerous?
Belly fat is an indicator of visceral fat. Visceral fat is fat that encases your organs. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and bone loss, as well as a few other deadly conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the research behind the deadly dangers of belly fat.
Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
According to studies on visceral fat, abdominal fat breaks down into fatty acids quite easily. These fatty acids move into the liver and then into the muscle. When they enter the liver they have a few detrimental effects on the body. They cause your body to increase the production of LDL or “lousy” cholesterol.
They also cause your body to increase the release of triglycerides. These are both precursors to heart disease, as the fat and cholesterol get into the bloodstream, cause clots and resistance, which in turn makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body.
Abdominal fat also changes the levels of a hormone called angiotensin. This hormone controls how your blood vessels, your arteries and veins, respond and constrict. It causes them to constrict, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Again these are all precursors to heart disease, which is the number one killer in the United States – more than all types of cancer combined.
Abdominal fat also impacts your pancreas and blood sugar levels. Insulin can be less effective in controlling your blood sugar. As it becomes less effective your blood sugar levels get out of balance. Your body stores the calories as fat and the vicious cycle begins.
You’ll be hungry, tired, and because your cells aren’t using the energy you’re consuming your body stores it as fat. Abdominal fat is only the beginning. It’s a sign that things need to change or they’re going to get worse.
Men versus Women
Before menopause women have a much lower risk of heart disease than men. Men actually collect more abdominal fat than women. They can begin collecting it during adolescence. This belly fat puts men at greater risk for what’s called “all cause mortality,” which means early death from any cause.
It also causes erectile dysfunction in men over age 60.
In women, after menopause fat starts to collect in the belly area. This increases a woman’s risk of heart disease. In fact, after menopause women’s risk of heart disease is equal to or higher than the risk for men.
Abdominal fat in women also causes fertility problems and they have a 1/3 higher risk of breast cancer. As fats break down they release chemicals, and an abundance of these chemicals in the body can cause cells to overgrow and become cancerous. In fact, some studies have shown that women with excess belly fat have a higher risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
The Bottom Line
Abdominal fat isn’t just problematic for appearance sake, it can kill you. It’s the most dangerous type of fat and even in small amounts it can begin to cause problems that can’t be seen until it’s too late.
If you’re concerned about your health, or you simply want to get rid of the belly fat and enjoy a trimmer waistline, the first step is to have a starting point to work from. It’s time to learn how to measure your belly fat.