Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spotlight on Technology - A Pill That Mimics Exercise??

Here’s an interesting story out of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Researchers have discovered a natural hormone called Irisin that can speed up the transformation of body fat in a way similar to what happens during physical exercise. The hormone is already present in the body but at very low levels, and these levels increase with exercise. Once they accumulate in the blood, they help to transform white fat (which accumulates calories) into brown fat (which produces heat and burns calories).

The researchers conducted studies in which they artificially boosted the Irisin levels in mice. This caused the mice to burn more calories and lose weight within the first ten days. They found that it also was able to regular blood sugar levels effectively, meaning that the treatment could potentially be useful in controlling diabetes.

Researchers caution that these are preliminary findings. It is still uncertain whether humans would experience the same benefits from boosting the level of Irisin, and it may be a challenge converting the hormone into a drug that could be easily administered. But the potential for something like this is fascinating.

Should this product become available to the public, I don’t believe that it should ever be viewed as a substitute for regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. We too often look for a quick fix or an easy way out. However, for those who are morbidly obesity or who are having trouble controlling their diabetes, I can see how something like this may become a valuable tool when used in conjunction with exercise. It may also be helpful for those who are limited in the amount of physical activity they can perform due to a disability. If you want to read more about this research, you can check out the article at

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