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Protein to combat obesity and diabetes identified

In an attempt to combat obesity and diabetes, researchers have identified the protein in fat and liver cells that can be altered to accelerate metabolism.
 
Investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre made the novel discovery by manipulating a biochemical process that underlies cells’ energy-burning abilities.

The new findings show that reducing the amount of nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) protein in fat and liver dramatically reduces the development of obesity and diabetes in mice.

Senior author Barbara Kahn, from Harvard Medical School, said that they now have a means of metabolic manipulation that could help speed energy production and lead to weight loss.
 
Co-corresponding author Qin Yang explained that NNMT is an enzyme that processes vitamin B3 and has been linked to certain types of cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. “Now we have identified an entirely new role for this enzyme in fat tissue, and that is to regulate energy metabolism,” he said.
 
The new findings hinge on a biochemical mechanism known as a futile cycle, in which cellular reactions are sped up, thereby generating more energy.
Kahn asserted that some people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not gain weight and part of the reason for this natural weight control owes to basal cellular metabolism – the body’s inherent rate of burning energy. A futile cycle is one way to speed up energy utilisation in cells, he said.

Consuming high-fat diet increases breast cancer risk

A new study has revealed that consuming a high-fat diet is associated with increased risk of certain types of breast cancer.
 
According to the researchers, high total and saturated fat intake were associated with greater risk of estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive (ER+PR+) breast cancer (BC), and human epidermal growth factor 2 receptor-negative (HER2-) disease. 
 
Published data from epidemiological and case-control studies on the association between high fat intake and BC risk have been conflicting, which may be attributable to difficulties obtaining accurate information on fat intake and because of limited heterogeneity of intake within a specific geographic area from which the study cohorts live.
 
Furthermore, BC is now classified clinically into subtypes by ER, PR, and HER2 expression status and each subtype has its own prognosis and set of risk factors, which may also contribute to the inconsistencies in the published reports on this relationship.
 
Sabina Sieri, PhD, from the Epidemiology and Prevention Unit of the Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine at Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Dei Tumori in Milan Italy, and colleagues prospectively analysed data from 10,062 BC patients from the EPIC study with 11.5 years of follow-up. 

The authors report high total and saturated fat intake were associated with greater risk of ER+PR+ BC. High saturated fat intake was also associated with greater risk of HER2- disease.
 
The authors conclude, “a high-fat diet increases BC risk and, most conspicuously, that high saturated fat intake increases risk of receptor-positive disease, suggesting saturated fat involvement in the etiology of receptor-positive BC.”

Physical activity in midlife can lower dementia risk

A new study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland has found that physical activity in midlife seems to protect from dementia in old age.
 
Those who engaged in physical activity at least twice a week had a lower risk of dementia than those who were less active. 

The protective effects were particularly strong among overweight individuals. 

In addition, the results showed that becoming more physically active after midlife may also contribute to lowering dementia risk.
 
Several modifiable risk factors for dementia have been suggested, but further refinement of this information is essential for effective preventive interventions targeted at high-risk groups. 

Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) is a particularly important due to its broader effects on health in general and cardiovascular health in particular.
 
Previous research has yielded inconsistent evidence on the association between LTPA and dementia, possibly because of short follow-up time, intensity of physical activity or population characteristics such as sex, body mass index, age or genetic risk factors of dementia. 
 
Recent findings from the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Incidence of Dementia (CAIDE) Study demonstrated that those who engaged in leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) at least twice per week had lower risk of dementia in comparison to less active individuals.

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