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Obesity, inactivity linked to increased fibromyalgia risk.

Being overweight or obese is associated with a woman's higher risk of developing fibromyalgia, as is lack of exercise.

"Regular physical exercise ... may serve as a buffer against the perpetuation of musculoskeletal symptoms that eventually lead to the development of [fibromyalgia]," investigators at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim hypothesized. "However, the results of this study do not indicate a strong effect of physical exercise" on development of the disorder.

Links between obesity and fibromyalgia have been described, Paul J. Mork, Ph.D., and colleagues noted, though the reasons for such associations are not well understood. Fibromyalgia and obesity share characteristics, such as elevated serum levels of certain proinflammatory cytokines.

The investigators used data from the Nord-Trondelag Health study, a two-part, government-sponsored cohort conducted between 1984 and 1986, and again between 1995 and 1997. They identified 15,990 women 20 years and older who initially reported no fibromyalgia or physical impairment. Of these, 380 reported physician-diagnosed fibromyalgia 11 years later during the study follow-up. Each study phase included a series of physical examinations and measurements and detailed self-reported questionnaires. At follow-up, the study comprised 9,942 normal-weight, 4,245 overweight, and 1,481 obese women.

Women who reported that they exercised four or more times a week were 29% less likely to develop fibromyalgia than were women who described themselves as inactive. Obese women (body mass index of at least 30 kg/[m.sup.2]) had a 64% higher risk than normal weight women of developing the disorder, even after adjustments for potential confounding factors such as age, smoking, and psychological well-being.

In overweight and obese women (BMI of at least 25 kg/[m.sup.2]) who initially reported exercising 1 hour a week or more, the relative risk of fibromyalgia was somewhat reduced compared with women in the same BMI group who were inactive (relative risk, 1.72 vs. 2.09), suggesting a benefit of exercise in preventing fibromyalgia independent of BMI.

The authors said the study was limited because information about exercise habits was self-reported and not followed up in the second part of the cohort. They acknowledged that "genetic predisposition, sociopsychological factors, adverse life events and occupational exposures (eg., work stress), could be of importance," but had not been included in their analysis.

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Author:Smith, Jennie
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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