Fat can also accumulate in the lungs

Already in the past, several studies have linked being overweight or obesity to respiratory problems such as asthma or wheezing and something very close to confirming this connection came from a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

The researchers examined lung tissue samples taken from 52 cadavers stored in a respiratory tissue biobank. Of the 52 people to whom the corpses belonged, 16 had died from asthma. By analyzing the structure of the lungs, the researchers quantified the adipose tissue also comparing it with the body mass index of each person when he was alive.

The researchers say they have identified, for the first time, that adipose tissue can also accumulate in the airway walls of the lungs. The researchers suggest that this increase in fat may alter the normal functioning of the lung’s airways leading to inflammation of the latter and favoring diseases such as asthma. John Elliot, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, says: “By observing lung samples, we identified adipose tissue that had accumulated in the airway walls. We wanted to see if this accumulation was related to body weight.”

According to the other main research author, Peter Noble, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia in Perth, being overweight or being obese in the past had been linked to an increased risk of asthma but this connection had never been fully explained. This research shows that excess fat can also occur in the lungs, especially in the airway walls.

These can, in fact, be different in thickness and this can limit the flow of air both in and out, which in turn increases the risk of asthma. This would also explain why those who are overweight or obese tend to need to breathe more when doing physical activity, which increases the ventilatory load. Now the researchers want to find out if with a slimming effect it is possible not only to lower body weight but also to counteract these respiratory diseases.