Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness
Weight loss for no apparent reason, such as a diet or sports practice, may indicate that there is something wrong with the organism and the cause must be investigated, says endocrinologist Danielle Andreoni, from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein. Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness.
The exceptions are people who are easy to lose weight due to a genetic factor – they have increased metabolism and end up spending all the energy consumed and accumulating little fat in the body – or environmental factor, related to the amount of muscle mass.
According to her, the more muscles, the greater the energy expenditure, and the lower the body fat rate.
But weight loss and consequent thinness do not always occur in this way. According to Danielle, sometimes this loss of fat and even muscle mass can come from cancer and infectious diseases.
She explains that, in the case of cancer, weight loss is due to the energy consumption of the tumor and also to its interference in the satiety center, leading the person to lose their appetite and have nutritional deficiencies.
Danielle warns that when about 10% of body mass is lost, it is recommended that the person seek medical help, preferably a general practitioner or an endocrinologist, so that the cause is investigated.
The endocrinologist also claims that people with low weight have a greater tendency to osteoporosis and, when this weight loss causes an intense loss of muscle mass and Body Mass Index (BMI) below 16, the heart is affected and can lead to death by cardiac arrest. Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness
BMI is calculated by dividing the person’s weight by his height squared. To be considered underweight, the BMI must be less than or equal to 18.5, ideally between 18.5 and 24.9; overweight, from 25 to 29.9, and obesity, above 30.
Recently, model and digital influencer Naiara Almeida, 24, better known as Nara, died of stomach cancer. One of the factors that drew the most attention during his battle with the disease was excessive weight loss.
On her Instagram, she even spoke about the compliments she got on her body. “In the photos, it looks like I’m super healthy, thin, hot. But the reality is that I am very underweight, I feel tired, I have anemia and several other problems, only I know how weak I am.
I can’t eat anymore, even the water I drink I pour out in a matter of minutes, my stomach doesn’t process anything! Today what keeps me alive is the tube that I feed enterally. The price I’m paying to have this body that you consider to be ‘dreams’ is very high ”, he said.
Weight Loss Diseases
Danielle states that some diseases present weight loss as one of the symptoms, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and diverticulitis, celiac disease, cancer, AIDS, depression, anorexia, bulimia and even the use of drugs and alcohol.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that results in the accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream and, when decompensated by the lack of production or the action of insulin, the sugar level gets high in the blood and cannot enter the cell to provide energy.
Thus, the body produces more glucose (sugar) to try to get it into the cell. To generate this glucose, the body consumes fatty tissue, and thus, generates weight loss, explains Danielle.
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In hyperthyroidism, metabolism is accelerated due to the increased production of thyroid hormones, which causes loss of fat and even muscle mass. Despite the weight loss, the patient has an increase in his appetite, informs the endocrinologist.
Intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, and diverticulitis result in weight loss due to the lack of absorption of nutrients from the intestine. The person may also have an increase in defecation, which can hurt the intestinal mucosa, where the enzymes responsible for the absorption of nutrients and degradation of the food are found.
In patients with celiac disease, weight loss occurs due to the lack of nutrient absorption and diarrhea because gliadin, a substance present in wheat, enters the intestinal mucosa and causes inflammation, affecting the intestinal mucosa, thus not having, the enzymes necessary to absorb such a substance. Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness.
Cancer, on the other hand, occurs due to abnormal growth of cells, causing cellular metabolism to increase due to the metabolic activities of the tumor, which generates an expenditure of energy, resulting in weight loss.
Aids can lose weight for several reasons, including changes in the thyroid or adrenal gland, responsible for the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, explains Danielle. Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness.
In cases like depression, the person may lose or gain an appetite. Often, the person finds comfort in food, which increases their appetite. In the case of loss of appetite, the person may not have the strength or desire to eat or cook or may also lose pleasure in eating, which causes weight loss.
Bulimia causes an increase in appetite in some outbreaks. However, the feeling of guilt causes her to eliminate the food, purposely causing vomiting and diarrhea, or avoiding calorie intake. In anorexia nervosa, on the other hand, the patient goes through an image disorder, which makes him see himself at a weight above that of reality. For fear of gaining weight, the person reduces their food or avoids eating.
The use of drugs such as crack and cocaine inhibits appetite and increases metabolism, causing the person to lose weight. Alcohol also generates a low intake of food calories.
Weight loss is among the first symptoms of cancer
The director of abdominal surgery and oncologist at Hospital AC Camargo, Felipe Coimbra, explains how cancer acts in weight loss. He reveals that one of the main symptoms of cancer is weight loss with no apparent cause and is mainly related to tumors in the digestive system (esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, and intestine). Other cancers that may also show this symptom are lung and kidney cancers.
According to Coimbra, it is estimated that about 80% of digestive cancer patients will trigger significant weight loss as one of the first symptoms. Lung cancer patients are about 60% reporting this as one of the first symptoms.
Also read: Family members suffer more from cancer than patient, says study
Tumors of the mouth and throat also show weight loss due to the difficulty and pain when eating. Another factor is the toxins released by the tumor, which can cause this loss.
Cancer treatments can also lead to weight loss. Procedures such as surgery can modify the functioning of the digestive system, making the patient in need of food “rehabilitation”. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can lead to loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness, which are symptoms of the drugs used. Rapid and excessive weight loss may indicate illness.