We all know that fat around the stomach is unsightly. It makes your clothes ill-fit and hinders your athletic and sexual performance. Not good things to be sure. But did you know that fat is actually very dangerous and potentially deadly?

The dangers of fat around your stomach include increased risks of:

1. Heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

2. Type 2 diabetes.

3. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

4. Certain types of cancer.

That’s scary stuff! Studies have been done on the reasons why stomach fat contributes to these diseases.

As a result, some conclusions have been drawn:

1. Fat cells release large amounts of fatty acids. The more fat cells there are, the more fatty acids are released. If the amount released becomes too large, a person’s insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels are disturbed, increasing their risk factors for diabetes.

2. Decreases the effectiveness of insulin. Insulin is used by the body to burn energy. If it becomes less effective as a result of a fat stomach, more insulin is pumped out to compensate. As more insulin is pumped out, normal levels are further disrupted. The blood begins to turn sugary, and the sugar begins to damage the nerves, arteries, and even brain cells. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this will eventually lead to diabetes, bad cholesterol, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Not coincidentally, these symptoms are precursors to heart disease.

So are you at risk? It’s easy to find out. Just measure around the top of your hip bone. If you’re a man, anything under 39 inches should be fine, if your BMI (body mass index) is normal. If you are a woman, less than 34 inches is relatively safe if your BMI is normal. Anything above this is very risky and stomach fat can start to cause problems.

What should you do if you are at risk? Go see a doctor to assess your risks for the diseases listed above.

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