A number of studies have shown that depression is linked to heart disease but the exact nature of the link is unclear. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in the U.S. studied 409 middle-aged women, half of whom were African-American and half of whom were white. The study measured the women's levels of depression and their visceral fat. Visceral fat is internal fat, stored between the organs around the waist and is known to be worse than other kinds of fat in terms of increasing the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The study found that there was a strong correlation between depression and visceral fat, particularly among overweight and obese women. The results were the same even when other factors, such as physical activity, were taken into account. The author of the study thought that depression might increase levels of visceral fat by stimulating the production of hormones such as cortisol which are released in response to stress.
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