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Med Clin North Am. 1989 Jan;73(1):139-60.

Endocrine aspects of obesity.

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Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.


As is obvious from the previous discussions, obesity is associated with a wide variety of changes in endocrine parameters (Table 1). Some of these changes, such as the reduction in SHBG without change in serum free testosterone levels, reflect merely laboratory abnormalities that may influence interpretation of diagnostic tests but have no important physiologic relevance. Other abnormalities have major clinical impact, such as hyperestrogenemia-endometrial carcinoma and hyperlipidemia-coronary artery disease. In some cases, endocrine changes in obesity are beneficial--that is, hyperestrogenemia leading to lower incidence of osteoporosis. In other cases, such as the profound suppression of growth hormone output in obesity, the physiologic relevance is unknown. Several endocrine changes in obesity, such as the impaired response of many hormones (growth hormone, prolactin, vasopressin, corticotropin) to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and elevated endorphin levels, suggest hypothalamic dysfunction. Furthermore, the failure of all of these abnormalities to be normalized after weight reduction raises the possibility of an underlying disorder leading to both endocrine dysfunction and obesity, rather than the endocrine dysfunction being simply a consequence of the obesity. Successful elucidation of the pathogenesis of obesity, which might then lead to much needed specific treatment modalities, may be advanced if we can solve some of these puzzles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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