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Does the warning about belly fat and heart attack risk apply to all ethnic groups?

Yes; a study reported in the November 5, 2005 issue of Lancet covered people from 52 countries and confirmed that storing fat primarily in your belly markedly increases chances of suffering a heart attack in all groups. Some regions and ethnic groups appear to be more disposed to this pattern of fat distribution and their heart attack rate is correspondingly higher. When you store fat primarily in your belly, you also store it in your liver. After insulin does its job of driving sugar from the bloodstream into your cells, it is supposed to be removed by your liver. Having a lot of fat in your liver prevents your liver from removing insulin, causing blood levels of insulin to rise too high. Insulin constricts arteries to cause heart attacks. It also acts on your brain to make you hungry so you eat more. It acts on your liver to manufacture more fat and it causes fat to be deposited in the fat cells in your belly.

Storing fat on your hips, or in both your belly and your hips, does not increase risk for suffering heart attacks. The researchers conclude that larger hips are often associated with greater muscle mass, and strong muscles help to protect you from heart attacks.

February 1, 2006

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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