Can Viagra Help You Lose Weight?

Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013 03:40 PM

By Nick Tate

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Viagra may be best known for treating impotence, but new research shows it also has potential as a potent weapon in the war on obesity.

Health specialists with the University of Bonn Biomedical Center in Germany found that Viagra (sildenafil) promotes weight loss by coaxing our bodies to store more healthy "brown fat" — which burns calories — than unhealthy "white fat" than it would otherwise do on its own.

The study, published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, determined that Viagra has an effect on molecular signals used by the body to control blood pressure and flow, which in turn determines which type of fat — white or brown — the body stores.

Special: These 5 Things Flush 40 lbs. of Fat Out of Your Body.

"There is a growing need for novel treatments against obesity," said Alexander Pfeifer, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn. "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."

For the study, Pfeifer and colleagues used mice to show that Viagra caused the white fat in their bodies to turn to brown after just a few days of treatment.

Brown fat — also called brown adipose tissue (BAT) — is one of two primary types of fat in the body, the other being the more familiar "white" fat that comes from eating more calories than you burn, causing weight gain.

Brown fat is believed to help maintain the body’s core temperature by burning calories and fat reserves to generate body heat. Until recently, scientists thought BAT disappeared in childhood. But five years ago, researchers found brown fat is also present in adults and is turned on by cold temperatures and exercise.

Because of its fat-burning properties, BAT has become the focus of intense scientific research and health experts’ understanding of brown fat, and its potential, has exploded.
 
Recent studies have found when BAT is "switched on" by cold or exercise it can produce 300 times more heat than any other organ in the body. 

But the new German study suggests Viagra, and perhaps other medications, may be used to promote the beneficial affects of brown fat.

"Clearly, size matters when it comes to our weight," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor of the FASEB Journal. "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."

Special: These 5 Things Flush 40 lbs. of Fat Out of Your Body.



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