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Can Viagra Help Fight The War On Obesity?

April 1, 2013

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

The drug sildenafil (better known as Viagra) has for many years been prescribed to help promote erections. Now, a new study has found that Viagra may also help promote weight loss by determining which kind of fat should be stored in the body.

Alexander Pfeifer, M.D., Ph.D., was involved in this new study which could give men an extra reason to ask for the little blue pill during their next visit to the doctor´s office. This study has also been published online in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, or FASEB.

In a press statement, Dr. Pfeifer expressed his happiness with finding this link, saying any good news from the front of the war on obesity should be welcomed.

“There is a growing need for novel treatments against obesity,” said Dr. Pfeifer. “Finding new positive effects of existing drugs, such as sildenafil, in adipose tissue might help to bridge the period until novel drugs against obesity have been developed.”

The research team discovered that sildenafil coaxes the body to store more of the “brown fat” adipose tissue as opposed to the “white fat” tissues. The drug has been found to do this on a molecular level, stopping the breakdown of cyclic GMP. This cyclic GMP is responsible for controlling blood flow and blood pressure, and by preventing its breakdown, sildenafil encourages the cyclic GMP to store more brown fat.

“Brown fat, also called brown adipose tissue, is a special type of body fat that is turned on, or activated, when you get cold,” explains Dr. Donald Hensrud with the Mayo Clinic, who was not a part of this research. “Brown fat produces heat to help maintain your body temperature in cold conditions.”

According to Dr. Hensrud, brown fat has been shown to use other body fat as fuel to burn calories. What´s more, previous research has shown that exercise can activate this brown fat, thereby leading to the burning of other fats.

Though taking sildenafil alone won´t be enough to shed the pounds, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal says this study proves that the drug is capable of changing some things deep within our body.

“Clearly, size matters when it comes to our weight,” said Dr. Weissmann in a statement. “Numerous studies show that obesity is a risk factor for virtually every human disease, and that obesity is epidemic. The finding that Viagra and similar drugs can change our body fat composition has major implications. These drugs have well defined risk/benefit profiles and are approved for the treatment of erectile disorders. Further research will determine whether they are useful in the treatment of human girth disorders.”

This is Dr. Pfeifer´s second study on the effects of Viagra on brown fat adipose tissues to be published in the FASEB this year. There seems to be very little difference between the two studies: both investigated sildenafil´s effect on the body via brown fat and both studies noted this change in mice.

“We have been researching the effect of cGMP on fat cells for quite some time now,” said Dr. Pfeifer in an earlier press statement.

“This is why sildenafil was a potentially interesting candidate for us.”


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online



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