Saturday, April 20, 2024 Apr 20, 2024
48° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Health & Fitness

A New Study Finds Air Pollution Can Make You Fat

Thanks, UNT.
|
Image

No surprise that air pollution is bad for your lungs and heart. But how about your waistline? UNT drops some new knowledge:

Amie Lund, a cardiovascular toxicology researcher with the University of North Texas, has found that exposure to certain air pollutants may cause weight gain, especially when coupled with a high-fat diet.

Lund is investigating how pollution from automobile exhaust affects the growth and signaling of fat cells called adipocytes. She determined car exhaust can trigger responses in the body that can lead to increased adipocyte growth and inflammation, which are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease.

“When people think of the root causes of obesity they often think of genetics and diet,” Lund said. “But, there are external factors, such as environmental pollutants, that stress the systems of our body constantly and may play a role in contributing to diseases like obesity.”

Inhaling automobile and diesel exhaust alters signals generated and received by the fat cells. This can cause these cells to grow 12 to 25 percent larger in size or even increase in number, according to Lund’s research.

“Cells in the body talk,” Lund said. “The signals sent and received govern the basic activity of cells in the organ systems of the body. These signals are chemicals, and like all forms of communication, they can be distorted.”

Changes in the cells also promote inflammation, increased lipid storage and activation of the immune system. The inflammation and immune response can then trigger further fat cell production causing a feedback loop where the two systems keep nudging the other forward.

“When we learn something like this we always rush to the ‘what pill can we take to fix this’ step,” Lund said. “But in this case, it is not that simple.”

The human body already has several systems in place to help maintain healthy organs. But, sometimes, external stressors will unbalance the system. In that case, she said less exposure would be a good idea. She added that it’s best to limit the time spent outdoors on days of high levels of air pollution (or low air quality).

“We should be aware that exercising outside during poor air quality days, or in the vicinity of high levels of traffic-generated air pollutants (i.e. near busy roadways), can increase our exposure to these pollutants because of the increased rate of respiration that occurs during exercise,” Lund said.

An associate professor in the College of Science, Lund specializes in investigating how air pollution exposure promotes the progression of inflammatory diseases in the body. She also studies how air pollution can cause disruptions in the blood-brain barrier that has been linked to stroke, Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. This is an on-going study funded by a $437,964 R15 Research Enhancement Award grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Related Articles

Image
Home & Garden

A Look Into the Life of Bowie House’s Jo Ellard

Bowie House owner Jo Ellard has amassed an impressive assemblage of accolades and occupations. Her latest endeavor showcases another prized collection: her art.
Image
Dallas History

D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: Cullen Davis Finds God as the ‘Evangelical New Right’ Rises

The richest man to be tried for murder falls in with a new clique of ambitious Tarrant County evangelicals.
Image
Home & Garden

The One Thing Bryan Yates Would Save in a Fire

We asked Bryan Yates of Yates Desygn: Aside from people and pictures, what’s the one thing you’d save in a fire?
Advertisement