Tests on laboratory mice have shown that obesity leads to the production of excess quantities of alcohol within the gastro-intestinal tract, according to the researchers at John Hopkins University, Maryland, Baltimore, USA.
Professor Anna Mae Diehl, a member of the research team, writes that it may be possible to protect obese people from fatty liver disease by prescribing yogurt or antibiotics to patients to reduce the quantities of intestinal bacteria.
Reporting in Gastroenterology, the researchers told how they carried out breath tests on obese and lean mice after feeding them an alcohol-free diet for 24 weeks. They found that obese mice produced roughly five times more ethanol than lean animals.
Obese mice produce five times more ethanol than their lean counterparts.
82% were healed at six weeks.
Professor Diehl said, "Our study suggests that obese mice with fatty liver disease make too much of their own alcohol, mimicking what we see in fatty liver disease produced in humans who drink alcohol to excess.
"Whenever the bowel fails to move normally, the partially digested food material becomes a food source for the intestinal bacteria. These bacteria overgrow, ferment the food and produce alcohol.
"If what we see in mice turns out to be true in people, treatment and prevention of obesity-related FLD could be relatively easy, using yogurt or oral antibiotics to constrain intestinal bacterial overgrowth."
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