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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 5:21 EDT

Brain Cells Become Cannibals Due To Dieting

August 3, 2011

Scientists say that dieters struggle to lose weight due to a lack of nutrition that forces their brain cells to eat themselves.

According to a new study, brain cells begin to eat themselves as a last-ditch source of energy to ward off starvation.

The body responds by producing fatty acids, which turn up the hunger signal in the brain and increases the impulse to eat.

The researchers said the findings could lead to new scientifically proven weight loss treatments.

Tests on mice unveiled that stopping the brain cells from eating themselves prevented levels of hunger from rising in response to starvation.

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University of New York researchers said the chemical change in their brains caused the mice to become lighter and slimmer after a period of fasting.

Dr Rajat Singh, who led the study, said in a statement: “A pathway that is really important for every cell to turn over components in a kind of housekeeping process is also required to regulate appetite.

“Treatments aimed at the pathway might make you less hungry and burn more fat, a good way to maintain energy balance in a world where calories are cheap and plentiful.”

The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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