- Obesity, the condition of being grossly fat or overweight can lead to lung problems like asthma or wheezing.
- New research found that fat deposits may appear in the airway walls of the lung.
- These fat deposits can change the structure of the airways and lead to inflammation in the lungs.
A new study reveals that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from asthma or wheezing. Now, scientists were able to discover that fats can find their way into the airway walls of the lungs and alter their structure. These deposits can cause wheezing, asthma, or both.
Published this month in the European Respiratory Journal, it suggests that fat deposits could have the same effects of artery plaque, which can clog vessels and cause cardiac events.
The scientists examined postmortem samples of lungs from 52 people. Of them, 16 died of asthma, 15 didn’t have asthma, and 21 had asthma but died from other causes, Healthline reported.
Dyes were inserted into the lung tissue and examined the structures of 1,373 airways, then correlated the fatty tissue with the body mass index (BMI) of each participant.
They found that the amount of fat increased in line with BMI. The scientists then noted that fat may alter the structure of the airways, which can cause inflammation in the lungs.
Why is there a fat-asthma connection?
Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, says the study is an “important first step” in correlating the appearance of increased fat deposits in the airways with the presence and severity of asthma in those who have overweight or obesity as well as asthma.
Rizzo noted that additional research is still needed to be done using different techniques to measure fatty tissue in the lungs and how it correlates in people who are living with asthma.
Airway responsiveness seems worse in people with obesity and asthma, the medical community is aware of that. The main culprit is chemicals known as adipokines which found to be elevated in obese individuals. Rizzo added that weight may play a role in asthma independently as well.
“Further evidence for the relationship between obesity and asthma is being seen in the actual makeup of the airway walls with evidence of fat deposits,” Rizzo added.
But that doesn’t solely explain the relationship between obesity and asthma.
“It is now recognized that there is obesity associated with early-onset allergic type asthma as well as obesity that occurs in late-onset nonallergic asthma,” he added.
In 2015, a higher study found that increased levels of fat in the lungs of people with pulmonary fibrosis cause scarred, stiff tissue within the lungs.
A recent report found that immune cells in people with the vaping illness contained numerous oily droplets known as lipid-laden macrophages, Healthline reported.