Health scientists are investigating the possibility that an infusion of certain gut hormones can prevent heart disease by helping people stop over-eating, quit smoking, or give up alcohol.
Imperial College London researchers are enrolling volunteers to take part in the study, by taking compounds that mimic the action of hormones naturally produced by the stomach and intestines, Medical Xpress
Preliminary studies have shown the hormones trigger feelings of fullness after a meal, which can switch off cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods, as well as cigarettes and alcohol.
The new work is focusing on two hormones — called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and ghrelin — that curb appetite and target the brain areas involved in addiction, reward, stress, and cravings.
"Studies suggest that people who are overweight may also respond to stress by over-eating, or be more impulsive,” said Dr. Tony Goldstone, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, one of the leaders of the study.
“These behaviors will predispose them to overeat, particularly foods high in fat and sugar. They may also find it difficult to stop eating when they are trying to lose weight – in much the same way that people find it hard to give up cigarettes when they are quitting smoking, or giving up alcohol when they have a drinking problem."
If successful, the study could lead to future drug treatments, Dr. Goldstone said.
"Obesity, smoking and alcohol dependence are major health burdens to society. In obesity, non-surgical interventions, such as diet and exercise programs, have been disappointing in achieving long-term weight loss,” he added.
“Similarly with alcohol and smoking dependence, relapse is common when trying to quit. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop new drug treatments for addiction. We hope this study may lead to these. Such a new hormonal approach may also have the added benefit of helping to prevent weight gain after people quit smoking. This is a common reason why people either do not want to stop smoking in the first place, or start smoking once again after they have given up."
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.