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Viagra (Also) Burns Excess Fat, Say Scientists Giving It to Mice

By Alexandra Ward   |  

Scientists have discovered a positive new side effect of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. The drug may help burn away excess fat.

A team of researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany examined the effect of the sex-stimulant drug on fat cells in mice after earlier tests revealed rodents treated with Viagra became resistant to obesity when fed a high-fat diet, according to the New York Times.

Viagra, generically known as sildenafil, was shown to help convert undesirable white fat cells into energy-burning beige fat cells in the laboratory mice tests, the research team reported in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The substance was also found to reduce the risk of other complications caused by obesity such as inflammation, which can lead to heart disease.

Dr. Alexander Pfeifer, director of the university's Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, fed Viagra to the mice for seven days and saw that the troublesome white fat cells, which are associated with human problems like the dreaded spare tire, were being converted to the beneficial type of fat cells at a higher rate than usual. Pfeifer called the results "very promising," according the Times.

The alternative effects of Viagra still need to be further proven with additional studies, the research team said.

Obesity has reached epidemic status in the U.S., where more than one-third of adults are considered obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pfeifer warned against taking the drug purely for dieting purposes.

"The idea to have one pill and then obesity goes away, that is a dream, but not easy to come by," he told the Times. "What we are up to is basic research in mice. This pill is approved by the F.D.A. for a particular purpose for a reason."

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Scientists have discovered a positive new side effect of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. The drug may help burn away excess fat. At least in mice.
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