Are your weight hormones killing joints? Most patients don’t understand that there are chemicals that are involved in weight control. The media has really only focused on what you eat, not how your body reacts. One important chemical for weight control has a strange name-leptin. In fact, it’s part of a family of similar molecules called “adipokines”. These chemicals are all involved in the regulation of the feeling of being full and weight control. In addition, you may not know that they’re also likely involved in frying your joints.
Leptin is the molecular switch for turning off your appetite. When you eat a big meal, Leptin is produced so that you say “enough”. However, in heavier patients, the signal is blunted. A recent study tried to determine if these adipokine switches were also associated with arthritis. They looked at leptin, adiponectin, adipsin, resistin. They adjusted for age, body weight and arthritis severity and still found that when the molecular fat switches were messed up (as is common in heavy patients) this was associated with more painful joints among women, but the effect wasn’t really found for men.
The upshot? While being heavier can put excess weight on your joints, as I’ve blogged before, there’s also a hormonal and chemical effect that makes arthritis worse. In this case, the chemical switches that control appetite may be another factor in why women develop arthritis. If you’re female and want to reduce these effects, getting off of the carbs and sweets and reducing your portion sizes (to make the “I’m full” switches reset) are solid strategies to reduce the chemical wear and tear and your joints!