Depression leads to internal fat in 70-somethings

CHICAGO (AP) -- A North Carolina researcher has found that older people who are depressed are much more likely to develop a dangerous type of internal body fat that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Stephen Kritchevsky of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University says the study should serve as another reason to take one's symptoms seriously and look for treatment. Kritchevsky was a co-author of the study.

People with depression were twice as likely as others to gain visceral fat -- the kind that surrounds internal organs and often shows up as belly fat.

Previous research has linked depression with diabetes and heart disease. Some researchers believe depression triggers high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes visceral fat. Kritchevsky says the cortisol connection may explain the findings.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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