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Is shedding pounds dangerous?

Can making pounds melt away actually pose some health risks? Well, a new study provides some provocative evidence suggesting that it might.

Duk Hee-Lee of Kyungpook National University in South Korea and colleagues studied data collected by federal health officials about 1,099 U.S. adults about their weight loss and blood levels of substances known as persistent organic pollutants or POPs. POPs are a class of chemicals created by industrial processes that have been linked to a variety of illnesses, including immune system disorders, dementia, diabetes and cancer. POPs can be stored in fat tissue, raising the possibility that they are released into the bloodstream when someone loses weight.

In fact, the researchers found that those who lost weight had higher levels of the POPs in their blood than who gained weight, according to a report in the International Journal of Obesity.The relationship was especially strong when someone kept the pounds off for 10 years.

The researchers stressed that it's far from clear that the differences in levels in POPs that they found were enough to really have a negative effect on health. But previous studies have found an apparent association between weight loss and increased risk for heart disease, dementia and other serious illness. Researchers long thought that was because people often lose weight when they have those health problems. And it might be the health problems that are actually causing the weight loss. But the new findings may challenge that assumption, and indicate that it really might be the other way around, the researchers said. If that's the case, they say, doctors might have to factor the relative risks and benefits of weight loss when counseling their patients.

By Rob Stein  |  September 8, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environmental Toxins , General Health , Obesity  
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Comments

Just what obese people need, a study telling them it's healthier to continue stuffing their faces and being inactive. Absurd!

Posted by: divi3 | September 8, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

WTF?????

Posted by: mooncusser | September 8, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the real take home message of this study is how polluted our environment has become, so much so that our bodies are storing the pollutants. We need to learn how to help our bodies effectively excrete the POPs, how to clean up the POPs from the environment, and how to avoid creating them in the first place.

Posted by: thnkr | September 8, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

You know when you hear the name "Duk Hee-Lee of Kyungpook National University in South Korea", you're getting quality research!

Give me a freakin' break. As an academic, I can attest the about 99 percent of published research has some damning flaw committed by a lazy assistant or lazy lead researcher in a mad rush to get out another publication. That's why people who have been doing this a while have something called the "laugh test". If you get impossible, inexplicable, or absurd results, your first assumption should be that you f'ed. Then you spend as long as it takes trying the get to root of the issue. If your resutls are simply trivial--hey, lookit, we found something that really doesn't matter--go find soemthing else to do. You don't publish your paper anyway and just shrug at what you've presented.

"The researchers stressed that it's far from clear that the differences in levels in POPs that they found were enough to really have a negative effect on health."

Being thin also greatly increases the speed at which you would die of starvation.

Posted by: Wallenstein | September 8, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Surely someone somewhere has developed a form of hemodialysis that can cleanse my blood of these POPs while I'm still using it.

Posted by: mattintx | September 8, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Wallenstein, what are your credentials?

Posted by: nuzuw | September 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Here folks is yet another spurious study given press time that adds to the confusion and skepticism that already exists towards biomedical research. Maybe POPs also cause pimples, erectile dysfunction, and baldness! Total nonsense!

Posted by: hayden1 | September 8, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I think these bloggers are giving way too much credibility to Duk Hee-Lee's research. Hee-Lee sends out an email, and all of a sudden we're reading about in the WaPo. I find that irresponsible. A lot of obese people out there who read this are gonna think, hmm, maybe I shouldn't lose weight after all. There is a tremendous amount of well-documented research that shows the benefits of weight loss for obese people, and hardly anything about weight loss and POPs. Should lean people become obese to dilute the POPs in their bodies?! Give me a break. It's sad that these bloggers are making money transmitting this crap. It devalues the worth of an otherwise generally credible news site. Go find a job where you're actually doing something useful!

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