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Weight loss may help some asthmatics

June 14, 2004|Jane E. Allen

Although weight loss appears to have little effect on asthma itself, dropping excess pounds still makes breathing easier and helps asthmatics exercise more.

In studying the effects of weight loss on the lungs of 58 obese women enrolled in a six-month diet and exercise program, researchers at the Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, found that weight loss improved everyone's lung capacity but didn't change the underlying inflammation in the 24 women with the condition.

Lead researcher Dr. Shawn D. Aaron, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa, said the findings indicated that better lung function results from reduced stress on the respiratory system. That suggests that some overweight women with shortness of breath may be suffering from overtaxed respiratory systems, rather than asthma.

"Many obese women who lose lots of weight are able to reduce or eliminate their need for asthma medications since they have far fewer respiratory symptoms once they achieve a leaner body mass index," he said.

The study was published in the June issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.


Jane E. Allen

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