The key to treating obesity was accidentally found! A study which originally aimed to investigate the impact of obesity in cancer treatment led to an unexpected discovery. Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Arizona found out that two common anti-cancer drugs can effectively help in weight loss even with a high fat diet.
Obesity refers to the condition in which a person has too much body fat to the point that it negatively affects the person's health. It is commonly caused by too much food intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility. The main treatment for obesity is exercise and good diet, however, there are also medications and surgery to help manage obesity.
In a study published in Oncotarget on Tuesday, Jan 17, researchers used anti-cancer drugs on morbidly obese mice. Instead of just targeting cancer, methotrexate and cyclophosphamide helped remove excess fats on the mice. The researchers added that the medicines can be dosed without detectable toxicity to obese patients without cancer. Methotrexate and cyclophosphamide are also currently used to treat some noncancerous conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers highlighted that the weight loss in mice was not attributed to increased energy expenditure, malabsorption or decreased food intake. In fact, the mice continued to have high-fat diet in the duration of the study. The methotrexate or cyclophosphamide depleted the fat cell precursors in the mice which led to much decreased fat storage.
"Based on our composite data it appears that methotrexate or cyclophosphamide can induce the livers of obese mice to burn off rather than accumulate excessive dietary fat. This results in desirable weight reduction instead of increased obesity, even with continued caloric binging," Dr. Sandra Gendler, co-author of the study said in a press release from Mayo Clinic. She added that the use of anti-cancer drugs would help the weight loss of morbidly obese patients who have troubles in restraining their food intake.