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Adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) May Contribute to Obesity

September 04, 2007 | 59,336 views

Scientists have found new evidence linking a common kind of viral infection to obesity. The human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) -- a cause of respiratory infections and pinkeye -- may also be a contributing factor to obesity, as it’s been found to transform adult stem cells into fat cells, capable of storing additional fat.

Their findings were reported at the 234th national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, held August 19-23.

In a previous epidemiologic study, the researchers found that about 30 percent of obese people were infected with the Ad-36 virus, compared to 11 percent of lean individuals. Exactly how the virus causes obesity in people is still unknown, but it is believed that a specific gene, called E4Orfl, in the virus may be the culprit that promotes the obesity effect.

The team is now trying to figure out the factors that predispose some people with the virus to develop obesity, whereas others remain unaffected. Researchers hope the findings may lead to a future vaccine or antiviral obesity medication.

Science Blog August 20, 2007

CarbWire August 21, 2007

USA Today August 22, 2007


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Just last month I posted an article showing how good nutrition can overcome “bad genes” predisposing you to obesity. Searching for genetic clues to the obesity epidemic, in the hopes of developing a vaccine against it, is not the answer.

I strongly believe that conventional medicine will never have a cure obesity for obesity in your lifetime.

The idea that an “obesity virus” may be contributing to the soaring rates of obesity around the world is not new; I reported on this finding all the way back in 2000. It is, however, a very plausible theory, and I would not be surprised if there are significant viral causes underlying many cases of obesity. Does that mean that you can just sit back and wait for a vaccine or anti-viral medication to help you lose weight? Of course not. Not only would drug interventions likely be loaded with their own side effects, but the vast majority of people CAN lose weight naturally if they put their mind (and body) to it.

And, even if there is an underlying virus contributing to your difficulty in losing weight, how do you think people catch, or cure, a virus?

You catch a virus because your immune system is not quite up to par. People with compromised immune systems -- from stress, pollution, eating too much sugar, even certain medications – are at a much greater risk of catching viruses than those who eat well, exercise, sleep enough, and keep stress under control.

Being in harmony with a virus is largely related to the strength of your immune system, so keeping this first line of defense functioning optimally should be of great importance to you, regardless of whether you’re overweight or not.

That said, most all of the things that are good for your immune system are also beneficial for weight loss. So the four tenets of health (and healthy weight) still remain the same:

Remember, obesity is a direct cause of poor dietary choices and insufficient exercise. Unfortunately, the food industry and government itself sure don’t make it easy for you to avoid foods that ruin your health, as you can see in today’s accompanying article How the Food Industry is Deceiving You. But it is possible to take self responsibility and make better, healthier choices.  

Self Responsibility -- The Real Answer to the Obesity Epidemic

Hormones, especially leptin, regulate your body’s ability to burn fat. When fat cells metabolize sugar, they release leptin, and if you eat a diet that causes excessive surges in leptin, obesity and disease follows. The standard American diet (SAD) is a perfect example of the type of diet that will cause you to become leptin-resistant, meaning your brain can no longer “hear” the signals telling it to stop eating and storing fat.

Due to deceptive nutritional labels and general lack of knowledge of where the hidden sugars are, Americans are eating far more sugar than they know. When searching for sugar, you must also keep a vigilant eye out for high fructose corn syrup and those dangerous artificial sweeteners. These are included in a wide variety of foods that you might not normally suspect. And don't forget, carbohydrates found in processed foods, such as white bread and rice, break down to glucose and affect your body in the same way as refined sugar does.

Most doctors will not talk to you about leptin’s role in obesity though. Many of them are not even aware of its influence.

You must also remember that diet and exercise work hand-in-hand to benefit your health. I have found it very helpful to view exercise as a very potent drug that needs to be prescribed precisely to achieve maximum results, and cutting grains and sugars from your diet at the same time will help you to tame your weight and stay fit. Exercise, in fact, in my experience is far more potent than any oral diabetic drug because it normalizes insulin action.

Diets by themselves, without an exercise program, simply don't work, and the best exercise program in the world won't help you if you're continually cramming your body full of junk food. In fact if you could only do one or the other, you would likely be far better off eating the right food for your nutritional type. Exercise, for many, simply compensates for poor food choices, this is especially for many who exercise with much cardiovascular workouts that tend to lower insulin levels.  If you aren't getting the proper fats and proteins your body will simply not have the fuel to heal and repair.

That said, if you are one of the rare people who faithfully apply the above techniques, yet are STILL not losing weight, one of the more unusual causes of obesity may be at play. The International Journal of Obesity listed some of these more unusual obesity triggers last year:

  • Taking certain medications, including antipsychotics, high blood pressure drugs, protease inhibitors to treat HIV and diabetes medications, including insulin. Even over-the-counter antihistamines have been linked to weight gain.
  • Exposure to environmental pollutants from pesticides, dyes, flavorings, perfumes, plastics, resins, and solvents. Exposure to even low levels may make you put on weight.
  • Your mother was obese, or older than what is typically considered "normal", when she gave birth to you. Both have been linked to an increased risk of obesity for you.

Remember, though, that although losing weight can take time, it is one of the best things you can do for your health if you’re overweight or obese. And, it’s something that most everyone CAN do, regardless of their genetics.

If you want one motto to live by when it comes to keeping off the pounds, it is, hands-down, this:

Keep your insulin and leptin levels low, very low.

You can easily measure fasting insulin levels with an inexpensive blood test that nearly any doctor can draw for you.  Leptin levels are a bit pricier. Your fasting insulin level should be about 2 or 3. The way you lower it to these levels is by exercising, avoiding processed foods and refined carbs, and by eating the appropriate amounts of carbs for your nutritional type.

This is NOT rocket science. If you apply the simple principles I've mentioned, you will see dramatic and remarkable improvements not only in your ability to achieve your ideal weight but also in just about every other chronic degenerative disease there is.

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