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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Obesity -

Obese men may have lower hernia risk

ObesityJun 26, 08

Overweight and obese men may be less likely than their thinner counterparts to develop a hernia in the groin, a long-term study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 7,500 Swedish men followed for 34 years, the risk of developing a groin hernia declined as the men’s weight increased.

Overall, men who were obese in middle-age were 43 percent less likely than normal-weight men to be diagnosed with the condition over the next three decades.

The findings are published in the Annals of Surgery.

Hernias occur when a part of an internal organ bulges through a weak area of muscle, usually in the abdomen. Groin hernias are also known as inguinal hernias; they arise when intestinal tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the inguinal canal, an opening between the layers of abdominal muscle in the groin area.

Excessive pressure on the abdominal wall, such as the strain of heavy lifting, can cause a hernia. In theory, obesity could contribute to groin hernias by creating extra pressure within the abdominal cavity but data thus far have been inconclusive.

The new findings, based on a large group of men followed for a long period, suggest that excess pounds may actually offer some protection against hernias, lead researcher Dr. Anders Rosemar told Reuters Health.

It’s not clear why obesity would protect against hernia, according to Rosemar and his colleagues at Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Ostra in Sweden.

One possibility, they speculate, is that the extra fat and thickness of the abdominal wall keep hernias from forming.

It’s also possible that hernias, which often cause a visible lump in the groin, are simply easier to detect in thinner men, the researchers note. However, they add, hernias also frequently cause pain, which would affect men whatever their weight.

Regardless of the effect of obesity on hernia risk, though, the fact remains that heavy men should try to shed pounds. Obese men may have a lower hernia risk, Rosemar said, but they still have an elevated risk of numerous other medical conditions.

SOURCE: Annals of Surgery, June 2008.

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