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Would you take a drug for weight loss if it made you as dumb as a rock?

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:37pm

Have researchers found a magic pill to cure obesity? Maybe, if you’re a binge-eater. Researchers have found that a recently-developed drug for epilepsy helps obese rats lose weight.

The drug, Vigabatrin (GVG), also shows promise in treating drug addiction. Tests currently being conducted on cocaine and methamphetamine addicts are determining whether GVG successfully prevents the elevation of dopamine and other neurological receptors that respond when the drugs are taken in. This, in a nutshell, prevents drug users from feeling high.

Tests on subjects with binge-eating disorder and alcoholism are planned. Researchers are hoping that GVG will cut off the brain’s reaction to external cues that turn on the brain’s “reward system,” one of the things that keeps addiction going.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if GVG, upon successful testing, comes out on the market as the latest weight loss “wonderdrug.” The thing is, with all drugs come side effects, and side effects have not been thoroughly evaluated with GVG.

Another drug for treatment of epilepsy, Topamax, has a well-known weight loss side effect. Many users of this drug sing their praises for it because of the weight they lose. In fact, many people with bipolar disorder turn to Topamax in hopes that it will help them lose weight gained from bipolar meds. (Note: The FDA has not approved Topamax as a mood stabilizer, but it is an increasingly common off-label use of the drug.) As with all medications, not all side effects occur in the person taking it and the severity of side effects varies by individual, and that does include weight loss. That said, Topamax has some potentially ugly side effects. Some of the most common side effects include a “pins and needles” feeling in hands and feet; drowsiness; problems with motor control and balance; and impaired cognitive functioning. Many takers of this drug complain of being unable to concentrate, having difficulty finding proper words to describe things, and will lose their train of thought in the middle of a conversation. Some people refer to the medication as “Dopamax” because of this effect.

So, would you take a medication with these kinds of side effects if it helped you lose weight? Discuss!

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