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Estrogen helps ward off belly fat

Hormone is one reason that men and women carry weight differently

Estrogen converts dangerous fat to healthier fat — even in a man.

New research shows that molecules that hold estrogen can help or hinder fat cell growth, which helps them regulate risk of metabolic diseases, Deborah Clegg of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas reported October 20 at a symposium for science writers.

Women and men tend to carry fat in different parts of their bodies: men in their guts, women in their butts. More generally, women hold fat in a concentrated layer directly under their skin, called subcutaneous fat. Men’s fat tends to lie inside the abdomen near their organs.

This is bad news for men: Belly fat is highly associated with obesity-related diseases. Jumbo fat cells in obese people secrete hormones that go directly into internal organs like the liver and can inflame the organs. Hormones from subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, go into the bloodstream, where they do less harm.

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