Of all the things you thought were bad about weighing more than you'd like, you might not have thought of this: a possible unwanted pregnancy.
Research is raising new concerns that the most popular type of emergency contraception - morning-after pills made from the hormone levonorgestrel, which prevents ovulation - are less effective in women who weigh more than 165 pounds. (To put this in context, the average weight of American women in their 20s is 162 pounds; in their 30s, 169 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Writing in Women's Health magazine, Elizabeth Dawes Gay starts with some background: In 2013, the European-made Norlevo added a warning on its packaging that the morning-after pill begins to lose effectiveness among women who weigh 165 pounds and isn't effective at all for women weighing more than 175. Although Norlevo is chemically identical to Plan B in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration said the data was inconclusive and did not require a warning here.
But a new study led by Alison Edelman, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Oregon Health and Science University, compared the effectiveness of a levonorgestrel-based contraceptive among women whose BMI was in the normal range and some who were considered obese. They found that it took a double dose of the drug to raise the obese women's hormone level to that of the women of normal weight.
So Gay asks: Could overweight women compensate by taking two pills if they need emergency contraception?
"As a clinical provider, I would love to tell you yes," Edelman tells her. "As a researcher, it's not something we can recommend yet." What they have shown thus far is that the level of the ovulation-inhibiting hormone could be raised by a double dose; more studies will be needed to show how those hormones actually affect the women's ovaries.
Obesity may increase risk of developing a rapid and irregular heart rate, called atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke, heart failure and other complications, says a study of nearly 70,00 patients.The findings, published in the journal American Journal of Cardiology, showed that people with obesity had a 40 percent higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation than people without obesity.
The results suggest that for patients with both obesity and atrial fibrillation, losing weight has the potential to help treat and manage their atrial fibrillation, said Andrew Foy, Assistant Professor at Penn State College of Medicine in the US.
"If you have both atrial fibrillation and obesity, treating obesity will go a long way in treating and managing your atrial fibrillation," Foy said.
"And if you have obesity, and lose weight through diet, exercise, or even surgery, that will help reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions like atrial fibrillation," he added.
Atrial fibrillation happens when the electrical currents in the heart go haywire and the top chambers of the heart quiver or flutter.
The condition puts patients at a higher risk for developing other heart complications.
While previous research has linked obesity and atrial fibrillation, Foy said he wanted to explore the connection in a larger sample of younger patients.
The researchers followed a group of 67,278 patients -- half with obesity and half without -- for eight years. The average participant age was 43.8 and nearly 77 per cent were women.
People with obesity are 40 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, while they are 45 per cent and 51 per cent more likely to develop hypertension or diabetes, respectively, the findings showed.
The researchers also found that people with obesity are almost just as likely to develop atrial fibrillation as people with hypertension or diabetes.