Women's Health

Obesity May Heighten the Risk of Depression for Women with Lupus

Obesity May Heighten the Risk of Depression for Women with Lupus

A study shows that women who are obese have a heightened risk of depression when lupus is involved.

Lupus is considered a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the autoimmune system and that may trigger different health issues. It is known to be a cause of depression due to the lack of energy for daily activities that affect the body’s immune system directly, making it an easy target for other diseases.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (commonly abbreviated as SLE) is the most common type of lupus, a systemic autoimmune condition that can drain all energy from people affected. Among the most common symptoms displayed by people with this condition are pain, inflammation, and damage to various parts of the body. It is also known that although this condition can occur in anyone, it is most often seen in women. Actually, it is ten times more common, and it is also twice as likely to develop among women of color.

The problem with obesity

Obesity and being overweight are both well-known problems, especially in the United States. Both of these may trigger adverse symptoms and make other diseases even worse. Obesity in America is considered a consequence of lacking time on a daily basis and having a practical and accessible option for something to eat in all fast-food options.

The impact of obesity in other conditions has been a subject of research for many years. New researches on the topic may suggest that obesity increases the chances women with lupus have with feeling depressed, which may also have a physical impact such as fatigue or pain. New research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, which took place in San Diego, highlights a direct link between this chronic condition and having extra pounds.

Also, obesity is a common condition in people with SLE. Among the problems that can be triggered by being obese and having SLE, it is much more likely to see:

  • Obesity in SLE patients may worsen systemic inflammation
  • It may worsen any outcome in rheumatoid arthritis as well
  • Decrease the quality of life of people who suffer from lupus in general

In a new study, a group of researchers from the University of California in San Francisco has tried to determine if excess adiposity (too much body fat) has a negative effect on women with lupus. According to experts, it is well-known that lupus can worsen the quality of life since symptoms are a burden and can get worse with some extra weight in the form of body fat.

Impact of lifestyle factors in lupus disease

Lifestyle factors are extremely important in the development of any disease, and it is essential to know what kind of impact it has on the life of those people affected. Regarding lupus, factors such as poverty and other sociodemographic aspects can impact the severity of these symptoms. However, they do not explain the severity of symptoms displayed in some cases.

Along with determining the kind of impact excess fat and its associates have regarding lupus symptoms and other problems of life, exercise and weight management can also impact these outcomes and worsen its symptoms. In order to establish the main problems of excessive body weight regarding people with lupus, researchers carried out a study in patients that were 18 years old and older, making a reliable and specific medical record for future research.

Researchers focusing on evaluating obesity’s association with lupus and its activity along with the possible depressive symptoms, fatigue or pain patients may feel like they took into account the potential confounders that would play their part in the worsening of symptoms. Some of these potential confounders are: race, education, age, disease damage, whether the affected person is a smoker or not and even the use of glucocorticoid medication as well.

The test and people tested

With the purpose of serving as a base to determine the direct impact of these conditions in people with lupus, the study had a sample of 148 patients who were 65% Caucasian, 14% Asian and 13% African-American, with an average age of 48. It is worth mentioning that 86% of the people who took part in the test had education beyond the high school level while 17% had a poverty-level income.

According to the first results, 32% of the patients who were measured during the study met the FMI definition of obesity while 30% met the BMI definition. Taking into account the statistical model used during the research, all patients with the worst reported outcome were diagnosed with obesity as well. Problems such as higher levels of depressive symptoms, more pain and fatigue and a higher level of disease activity were part of the problems displayed by obese people with lupus.

The study’s results showed that symptoms were worsened regardless of the patients’ genres. Women with SLE had worse cases of disease activities and depressive symptoms when they were diagnosed as obese than when they were without.

The importance of this study

Findings were proved to have important clinical implications since obesity is considered to have an impressive impact, especially for problems such as fatigue and pain. They cannot only be worsened by obesity, but they can also trigger other conditions making the whole disease more difficult to carry with.

Experts state that the relationship between excess fat and worse outcomes highlights the importance of having a healthy lifestyle especially for people suffering from lupus. It should be essential for people with SLE to avoid being overweight at all costs.

Experts from the University of California in San Francisco also underscored that more research is needed in the area. Among the benefits of losing some extra pounds when suffering from lupus, reducing the severity of debilitating symptoms that are common in this disease can also reduce cardiovascular risk as well. This is important information for rheumatologists who should address the importance of weight management in patients with lupus. Meanwhile, constant innovation in treatments for lupus should be part of the daily activities carried out by the medical community that is dedicated to research.