What is the Connection Between Hormones and Weight Gain?

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  • Written By: Lisa Hernandez
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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As women age, they experience the profound effect that hormones and weight gain have on each other. Many women who are nearing menopause begin to notice that they are gaining weight, despite dieting. Metabolism, the process by which the body converts food to energy, slows down as women age, and as this occurs, the production of hormones decreases. Hormone changes alter how a woman's body metabolizes and stores fat, resulting in weight gain, typically in the midsection. Women and men alike can also gain weight from some conditions that involve hormones, such as excessive stress and hypothyroidism.

An imbalance in the delicate relationship between hormones and weight gain can cause an unhealthy cycle in a woman's body. Fat cells can produce hormones, causing further hormonal imbalance, which leads to more weight gain. Excessive weight gain, especially in a woman's midsection, can lead to an increased risk for a host of health-related challenges, including certain cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Hormones produced from these fat cells can also cause insulin resistance, which typically is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.


Women who are approaching menopause, faced with the onset of imbalanced hormones and weight gain, might be concerned about their increased risk of certain cancers. As women age, their estrogen production starts to decrease. When estrogen production in the ovaries decreases, the body attempts to compensate for this reduction by conserving body fat. The increased fat cells might then start to produce an excess of estrogen, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Insulin resistance and diabetes, caused by hormonal imbalance, can also increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

One factor that can trigger imbalanced hormones and weight gain in men or women is excessive stress. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland, and it aids metabolism and increases blood sugar. When under stress, the body releases cortisol, which causes an increase in glucose production. Experts believe that a constant state of stress subjects the body to harmful levels of cortisol, which leads to excessive glucose production. Excessive glucose is then converted to fat, which the body typically stores in the abdomen.

Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland that causes imbalanced hormones and weight gain. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate the body's metabolism. When the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, the condition is referred to as hypothyroidism. Men and women are more susceptible to hypothyroidism as they age. Decreased levels of thyroid hormones will lower the metabolic rate, which results in weight gain.



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