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Fatty foods are deadlier than you think

delhi Updated: Feb 25, 2010 01:43 IST
Samar Halarnkar

Eating fatty food, even if you’re slim, could be deadlier than you think.

Fat hinders the effect of medicine and can cause the body’s invisible army of warrior cells to mutiny and worsen heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, reveal the results of a five-year study by a group of 10 researchers headed by a US endocrinologist who began her career at an Agra medical college.

The key culprit is a gene called PAI-1, roused like a terrorist sleeper cell, in this case by fatty tissue or free-roaming fat molecules that come from fatty foods or from being obese, says Preeti Kishore (39) and her team in the latest edition of Science Translational Medicine.

“Even in lean adults, high dietary fat may increase PAI-1 secretion and alter the risk for heart disease,” said Carey Luming, a University of Michigan pediatrics professor who reviewed the research.

“Understanding these mechanisms and identifying the fat-derived factors that activate marcrophages (mutinous defensive cells) could lead to new targeted therapies for these conditions, which have increased to epidemic proporations globally but particularly in India,” said Kishore, an endocrinologist at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, whose Indian partner is Vellore’s Christian Medical College.

With nearly 35 million diabetics, India leads a world diabetes epidemic.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer in the world and in India, with diabetes its leading cause.

The study clears “the fog surrounding the murky relationship” between free fatty acids in blood and inflammation, the body’s self-defence mechanism.

Kishore and her colleagues injected healthy, non-diabetic adults with fats typically seen in obese people and those with diabetes. The effects: healthy bodies stopped responding effectively to insulin, the main compound against diabetes; and a rise in levels of PAI-1.

“We found that elevated levels of fat molecules circulating in blood, as seen in obesity and Type 2 diabetes, can directly increase PAI-1 gene expression in fat,” said Kishore.