An article from The Academy of Finland

Atherosclerosis is a condition where an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol (Illustration: Wikimedia Commons)
Atherosclerosis is a condition where an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol (Illustration: Wikimedia Commons)

Oxidised LDL is bad news for unfit overweight young men

Young men should be alerted to the dangers of excess waist fat and declining physical fitness, which despite their young age increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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The Academy of Finland

The Academy of Finland’s mission is to finance high-quality scientific research, act as a science and science policy expert, and strengthen the position of science and research.

Overweight and excess fat in the circulation puts constant stress on the walls of blood vessels, triggering a vicious circle of atherosclerosis.

This is not just a problem for people past middle age, but the arteries of younger people can be blocked as well.

Not only a problem for old people

Finnish researcher Jussi Kosola’s doctoral thesis research shows that oxidised LDL is at unhealthy elevated levels in overweight and physically inactive young men.

Oxidised LDL fats, also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, play a key role in atherosclerosis, which clogs arteries and causes cardiovascular diseases. These fats are formed when a damaged blood vessel attracts inflammatory cells, which further oxidise normal fats in the circulation. They can cause a vicious circle of fat build-up on the walls of blood vessels, leading eventually to a calcium deposit clogging the blood vessel.

Jussi Kosola, Bachelor of Medicine, is researching his doctoral thesis at the University of Turku on “Associations of physical fitness, body composition and metabolic syndrome with oxidised lipids in healthy men aged 20-30”. (Photo: Heikki Rahkonen)
Jussi Kosola, Bachelor of Medicine, is researching his doctoral thesis at the University of Turku on “Associations of physical fitness, body composition and metabolic syndrome with oxidised lipids in healthy men aged 20-30”. (Photo: Heikki Rahkonen)

“It is well established that good cardiorespiratory fitness lowers adverse blood lipid concentrations,” says Kosola.

“But this is the first time that evidence has been provided on the association between oxidised LDL and physical fitness and overweight in young men.”

Physical performance revealed clear differences

The mean age of the men who took part in the study was 25 years. Serum LDL concentrations were clearly higher in overweight and obese young men, compared to normal-weight men.

The unhealthy fat profile was further highlighted when normal and overweight men were divided into three categories of poor, average and high maximum oxygen uptake capacity and muscle condition.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is one of the five major groups of lipoproteins that enable transport of multiple different fat molecules, including cholesterol, within the water around cells and within the water-based bloodstream.

Source: Wikipedia

The examination of physical performance provided some interesting results: no significant differences were seen in oxidised LDL levels between normal-weight men with poor and high oxygen uptake or muscle condition. However, in overweight men with poor physical fitness, serum lipid concentrations were significantly higher than in overweight men with good physical fitness.

Fitness is key

The research showed that serum lipid values – including oxidised LDL values – in overweight young men with good physical fitness are just as good as in normal-weight men.

“It would be beneficial for overweight young men not only to lose weight, but to improve their physical fitness,” says the researcher.

Measurements of both maximum oxygen uptake capacity and muscle condition indicated that serum lipid values were clearly better in overweight men with good physical fitness than in overweight men with poor physical fitness.

In particular, it seems that improved physical fitness lowers dangerous serum lipid levels.

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