Metabolism in Fibromyalgia (now featuring Leptin)

This is a fantastic article for our Fibro Friends. It features a bit about Leptin, which is 2014’s biggest lead.

Article by Adrienne Dellwo

Many fibromyalgia experts have long believed the condition is associated with an abnormal metabolism, which can lead to weight problems and difficulty losing weight. A new study gives us an idea what may be going on.

Researchers looked at indicators of what’s called “adiposity,” which is the clinical term for being overweight or obese. These include:

  • Leptin: a protein produced by fat in the body and believed to regulate fat storage, and
  • Acylated ghrelin: an enzyme that stimulates your appetite.

Researchers examined leptin and acylated ghrelin levels in a small group of women with fibromyalgia as well as a control group, and compared the results to the women’s pain intensity and physical activity levels.

They say the fibromyalgia group had higher leptin and lower acylated ghrelin levels than controls. The leptin levels were not linked to the weight of the fibromyalgia women, which is unusual and leads researchers to conclude that it’s somehow linked to symptoms.

Fibromyalgia & Metabolism

For years, we’ve had a group of fibromyalgia experts who’ve said we had metabolic problems that contributed to weight gain and made it especially hard for us to lose weight. Meanwhile, the rest of the medical community has told us that we’ll feel better if we lose weight. However, the researchers who churn out studies showing increased weight leads to increased pain and disability don’t ever seem to offer solutions – or even ask why we’re overweight to start with.

Why would we be overweight? So many reasons!

First, in the U.S., a whole lot of people – including those without health problems – are heavier than the medical community says they should be. On top of that, you’d expect a group of people with chronic pain to be on the heavy side: pain limits function and leads to being more sedentary. Then, consider that a large portion of us are women in child-bearing or post-menopausal years. If you’ve just had children, you’re more likely to be heavy than before having kids. And if you’re post-menopausal, it’s natural to put on a few pounds.

Fibromyalgia is also associated with thyroid disease and, to a lesser degree, problems with blood-sugar regulation. Those both cause weight gain. So do some of the drugs we’re prescribed.

Now, add to that evidence that we have high levels of a protein responsible for fat storage. What does that mean, exactly?

Picture a waterfall. Say ten people go out to catch water in buckets and dump that water into a pool. That’s a healthy person. Now imagine that ten more people join them. The pool fills up twice as fast even though the waterfall hasn’t changed, right? That’s us.

So yes, as a group, it’s probably true that we’re heavier than our healthy counterparts, and possibly even heavier than similar disease groups (i.e., people with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.) I’d imagine it’s true that extra weight leads to even more pain, as our muscles and connective tissues work harder to perform basic functions.

My hope is that this kind of research will continue and eventually lead not only to answers, but to treatments that regulate our metabolisms. * Source

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