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Viagra – The Next ‘It’ Drug for Weight Loss?

The quest for a leaner, more toned physique has led to many crazy potions, fad diets and pills. But who would have thought that Viagra would top that list? A new study suggests that in addition to sexual benefits for men, Viagra may also help with weight loss.

The German study paid for by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) submits that sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, may result in fat changing forms, causing it to expend more energy. When investigators introduced sildenafil into lab mice, there was a transformation called “browning” that occurred in the white adipose tissue, the main type of fat found in human adults.

The term browning was coined when, after exposure to sildenafil, the white fat began to appear more like brown fat. Brown fat, or rather brown adipose tissue, is common amongst infants and serves the purpose of generating heat for warmth, unlike white fat which is stored. Browning is speculated to help burn calories and thus, reduce weight.

Although short-term exposure to the drug did not alter the body fat composition of the mice, researchers did note that the mice’s white fat tissue displayed UCP-1, a protein typically found in brown fat that aids in heat production.

So far, however, the drug has only been tested on mice. It is not known whether use of sildenafil in humans would produce similar results. Also, the dosage of sildenafil given to mice in the experiment was higher than what is found in Viagra. Therefore, there could potentially be complications or negative side effects if a similar dosage of the drug is administered to men or women. A risk of addiction could be present as well.

These tests are still in their infancy and would likely require more animal studies before the drug, as a weight loss measure, could be tested or applied to humans.

There is still hope.

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