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Warning to elderly slimmers: Losing weight later in life may RAISE risk of an early death, study warns
- Men who lost more than 10% of their weight had a 289% higher mortality risk
- Weight gain was not associated with an increased risk of an early death, however
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It might sound counterintuitive — but losing weight in old age may raise the risk of an early death, a study suggests.
Being overweight is linked to a host of health problems and doctors say you have the best chance of a healthy life if you maintain a healthy weight.
But a study by researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found those who lost weight over the age of 65 were a third more likely to die in how many years.
To their surprise, no link was found between gaining weight and a higher risk of early death.
Losing weight in old age could lead to an earlier death because it can indicate underlying issues such as cancer and dementia (stock image)
The researchers believe it’s not the weight loss itself, but the cause of weight loss.
For example, the common cold, lotrel coupons discounts diabetes and heart, lung, kidney or liver disease cause people to lose their appetite, as do heavy prescription drugs.
Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia followed close to 17,000 adults aged 65 and above.
The study involved 16,703 Australian participants aged 70 and above and 2,411 American participants aged 65 and above without a history of cardiovascular disease, dementia, disability or chronic illness.
People who had been recently hospitalized were also excluded because being an inpatient is often followed by weight loss due to illness.
The participants’ bodyweight and waist circumference were measured at their annual checkups between 2010 and 2014.
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Within the men, those who lost more than 10 percent of their bodyweight were almost 290 percent more likely to die early than men with a stable weight.
Women who lost more than 10 percent of their bodyweight had a 114 percent higher mortality rate.
Compared to men with a consistent weight, those who lost five to 10 percent of their bodyweight had a 33 percent higher risk of an early death from all causes.
Women who lost the same range of weight had a 26 percent higher chance of an early death.
The connection was found across starting weights, meaning even those who were obese were at a higher risk of an early death if they lost weight more than five percent of their bodyweight.
Weight loss was also linked to early death from cancer.
More than 10 percent weight loss in men suggested they were 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer.
In women, more than 10 percent weight loss indicated the participants were 1.78 times more likely to die from cancer.
Weight gain, however, was not associated with an increased risk of an early death.
The participants were not asked about fluctuations in activity level and diet over the years, however.
Losing weight in old age could lead to an earlier death because it can indicate underlying issues such as cancer and dementia.
Lead study author Dr Monira Hussain, a clinical epidemiologist and senior research fellow in public health and preventative medicine at Monash University, told CNN: ‘Our study found that even a 5 percent weight loss increases mortality risk, particularly in older men.’
She added that weight loss is ‘often linked to reduced appetite influenced by inflammation and hormones’.
Mobility problems and side effects from medication can impact someone’s weight, as can social isolation, financial issues and pain.
Perri Halperin, the clinical nutrition director for the Mount Sinai Health System, who was not part of the study, said it was vital to remember that the study’s findings do not mean the weight loss caused a person’s death.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open.
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