Study: obesity crisis may put individuals at risk of developing a brain disorder ‘that used to be rare’


A study warned that the obesity crisis may lead to an increase in the number of cases of a brain disorder that was rare, and it can cause chronic headaches and blindness.

Researchers from Wales analyzed 1,765 cases of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) – a condition that mimics symptoms of a tumor. They occur when pressure rises in the fluid surrounding the brain – and can cause chronic headaches and varying degrees of vision problems.

A common treatment for this condition includes a weight loss program. Women of childbearing age are considered the most vulnerable to this condition.

The team said the diagnosis of IIH increased six-fold between 2003-2017, with the number of people living with the disorder increasing from 12 in 100,000 to 76.

In 2013, likewise, 2 out of every 100,000 people were identified with the disorder.

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The researchers said the new study, which looked at 35 million patients in Wales over a 15-year period, identified 1,765 cases of idiopathic intracranial hypertension – 85 percent of those patients were women.

The team found strong links – for both men and women – between higher body mass indexes, or “body mass index,” and the risk of developing the disorder.

Among the women identified by the study, there were 180 cases where the person concerned had a high body mass index, compared to only 13 cases where the women had an “ideal” body mass index.

For men, there were 21 cases among those with a high BMI, compared to eight cases for those with an ideal BMI.

The team also found that – for women only – social and economic factors appeared to play a role in determining risks.

“The most surprising thing about our research is that women who suffer from poverty or other social and economic barriers may also have an increased risk, regardless of obesity,” said paper author and neurologist Owen Pickrell, from Swansea University. For the participants in our study, women in the two lowest groups made up more than half of the female participants in the study.

More research is needed to determine socioeconomic factors such as diet, pollution, smoking or stress, which may play a role in increasing a woman’s risk of developing this disorder.

The full results of the study are published in the journal Neurology.

Source: Daily Mail


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