Friday, March 20, 2009

Anti-Obesity Drugs and the Neural Connection

Obesity is a curse, one that’s extremely difficult to shake off. It’s not just an aspect that’s socially unacceptable (if you’re fat, chances are that you’re not likely to be liked), it’s also dangerous for your health. Obese and overweight people are more susceptible to diseases like diabetes, strokes and cardiac arrests, illnesses that can cause lifelong disabilities and even death.
While a low calorie diet combined with a good exercise routine is the best way to combat obesity, not many people are willing to put themselves through the hardship that this entails. And some people are too morbidly obese to even attempt the mildest form of exercise. This is when they turn to drastic measures like surgery or anti-obesity drugs. While liposuction and stomach tucks come with their own set of complications, it’s the drugs that are used to lose weight that have the most dangerous side effects.
Anti-obesity drugs like taranabant, rimonabant and orlistat work in any one of the following ways:
· They suppress your appetite
· They increase your body’s metabolism
· They interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and break down fat
· They inhibit digestion
· They lower caloric absorption
The problem with these drugs is that they inhibit certain basic bodily functions in order to work, and it is because of this very fact that they’re dangerous. Drugs that suppress appetite, otherwise known as cannabinoid receptors, have been proven to cause brain damage in juvenile mice. They interfere with neural connectivity, and lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. This tendency to inhibit neurological development in mice could be mirrored in human infants; and since infancy is a stage where the brain is plastic and keeps modifying at a rapid pace, these drugs could possible cause brains with stunted growths.
The study, undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cautioned that drugs like rimonabant and tarabant which are responsible for suppressing appetite, are liable to target certain psychological pathways that are extremely important for keeping our bodies and brains at an equilibrium.
Besides affecting your mood, anti-obesity drugs could also give you high blood pressure and increase your pulse rate. All these factors lead us to question the efficacy and value of anti-obesity drugs. While doctors prescribe them only in concert with a diet and exercise regime, there are many cases of abuse where people continue to take them without prescriptions. The danger in this is that they’re unaware of the drugs’ potential side effects.
Yes, obesity is socially unacceptable, but if there’s one thing that’s more taboo than the problem of being overweight, it’s insanity. So if you want to keep your brains intact, it’s best you steer clear of these drugs and try to lose weight the regular way. Yes, it’s hard, but you need to remember that the good things in life don’t come easily.
This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com.

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