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Feb. 4, 2002 -- With weight comes inflammation, say researchers. But they've found that there is a way to calm this damaging effect on the body.

It's no secret that being overweight causes significant damage to your body over time. It's also well known that losing weight can buy you back some time. And now, a new study shows that if you're overweight, shedding some pounds can soothe the harmful inflammation raging inside your body.

In recent years, inflammation has been shown to play a role in heart disease. It's thought that the inflammation in the body helps to clog up the arteries. We're not sure what causes the inflammation, but this latest study suggests that being overweight may be one important reason. The study results appear in the Feb. 5 issue of the medical journal Circulation.

Andre Tchernof, PhD, and colleagues looked at 61 overweight women with an average age of 56. They measured levels of a blood chemical called "C-reactive protein," or CRP. This chemical goes up when inflammation in the body rises. Then, 25 of the women were put on a weight-loss program.

On average, CRP levels fell by 32% after a weight loss of about 33 pounds over 14 months, Tchernof reports. He was with the department of medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington, at the time of the study. Now he's with the molecular endocrinology lab in Quebec City, Canada.

"It really looks like fat loss is the best predictor of CRP changes," said Tchernof in a news release. The more fat the women lost, the lower the CRP fell.

With more research, we'll learn more about exactly what role inflammation plays in heart disease. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to do what we can to ease the inflammation -- and apparently, losing weight is one way to do it.

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