Obesity and sarcoidosis: consequence or contributor?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Sarcoidosis is a multisystem disease of unknown cause. Obesity can affect many physiological factors. The relationship between obesity and sarcoidosis is unclear, and can been described as posing a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario for the patient as it is not always clear whether it is a consequence of, or a risk factor for any disease. The purpose of this review is to examine the dual roles of obesity on sarcoidosis morbidity and the incidence.

Recent findings

Obesity magnifies the symptoms of sarcoidosis and corticosteroid therapy increases BMI. Prospective epidemiologic studies started to explore the role of obesity as a potential risk factor for sarcoidosis. Three studies in the United States, and one study in Denmark, have demonstrated significantly increased risks of sarcoidosis among obese compared with nonobese patients; risk estimates ranged from 1.42 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07–1.89] to 3.59 (95% CI, 2.31–5.57).

Summary

Obesity can be both a consequence of sarcoidosis treatment, and a contributor to disease risk likely through the pro-inflammatory environment of obesity. Prospective epidemiologic cohort studies are needed to explore the cause of sarcoidosis and insight into possible avenues of treatment development and prevention.

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