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OHSU researchers reveal relationship between weight gain and female hormones

NEW ORLEANS, La. Oregon Health & Science University researcher Judy Cameron, Ph.D., and her colleagues have announced research findings that help explain the relationship between weight gain and menopause. The study helps demonstrate how female hormones appear to play a major role in America's obesity epidemic. The findings may also provide new methods for fighting obesity. Additional data from the research relates to the long-held belief that food eaten late at night may lead to weight gain and to changes in metabolism with age. The results of the study will be presented on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting currently taking place in New Orleans.

"Perhaps most importantly, this research pertains to the country's worsening obesity epidemic. Currently about 30 percent of Americans are considered obese. In addition, significant weight gain has been tied to various serious health conditions, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, joint problems and various forms of cancer," explained Cameron, a scientist in the divisions of Reproductive Sciences and Neuroscience at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. "In women, it has been demonstrated that major weight increases often occur during menopause, the time in a woman's life in which cyclic ovarian function ends and the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone decline. The goal of this research was to determine whether, and to what extent, the decline in these hormones have an effect on body weight in an effort to better understand and proactively treat obesity."

To conduct this research, Cameron along with graduate student Elinor Sullivan and other colleagues studied 47 adult female monkeys. Nineteen of the monkeys had their ovaries surgically removed, a common procedure that results in a drop of estrogen and progesterone levels, much like menopause. While monkeys, like humans, go through menopause naturally during their lifetimes, surgical removal of the ovarie
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Contact: Jim Newman
newmanj@ohsu.edu
503 494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
12-Nov-2003


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