Obesity Cure in a Pill - Irisin
Have you heard about the "New Pill" that helps you "Stay Fit Without Exercise"? Professor Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard Medical School led the study that discovered a new hormone IRISIN. There are all sorts of breathless exclamations in newspapers and online about the amazing powers of this "pill" that could cure obesity. Unfortunately the news articles are wildly out of touch with what the researchers actually discovered.
Below is what the clinical abstract of the study said, word for word. It's a little technical, so if you don't read "medical" then skip the next paragraph and below that I'll explain what it means.
"Exercise benefits a variety of organ systems in mammals, and some of the best-recognized effects of exercise on muscle are mediated by the transcriptional co-activator PPAR-γ co-activator-1 α (PGC1-α). Here we show in mouse that PGC1-α expression in muscle stimulates an increase in expression of FNDC5, a membrane protein that is cleaved and secreted as a newly identified hormone, irisin. Irisin acts on white adipose cells in culture and in vivo to stimulate UCP1 expression and a broad program of brown-fat-like development. Irisin is induced with exercise in mice and humans, and mildly increased irisin levels in the blood cause an increase in energy expenditure in mice with no changes in movement or food intake. This results in improvements in obesity and glucose homeostasis. Irisin could be therapeutic for human metabolic disease and other disorders that are improved with exercise."
Here's the simple version. In a petri dish (in culture), and in the living tissue (in vivo) of at least ONE mouse they introduced a little bit of a new hormone irisin. That raised the energy expenditure (the mouse burned more calories) without an increase in food or movement.
That's great! Also this new hormone irisin helps the body produce brown-fat, which in recent studies seems to help with increased calorie burning. It's an amazing breakthrough.
But the part about a pill? That's just something the news reports made up. There is no pill. The researchers also have no idea if irisin works on humans like mice. In fact, here is a list of all the things they do NOT know.
- Does it work in humans and if so, which ones?
- How MUCH does it increase calorie burning? (Many things increase calorie burn, but is it the calories of a small cookie or a large meal?)
- How MUCH of the hormone should you take?
- How OFTEN should you take it?
- What are the side effects? (Remember even simple things like antioxidants in pill form have been proven clinically to kill you sooner. What does this hormone do?)
- What are the long-term effects of continued use? (Many drugs work great short term but over time cause significant damage or even death.)
- What would be the ideal delivery method? Injection? Topical? Liquid? Pill? (Contrary to what the articles say, there is no "pill." That's just creative license on the part of the writers.)
- Does it counteract the effects of common drugs?
To answer all those questions and make sure they have a working product, they're YEARS away from completing all the tests required to bring a safe drug to the market. And that's only if irisin really works. Hundreds of things show promise on mice or in a petri dish but fail when tested on humans.
Don't be surprised if you start seeing supplement companies begin marketing "irisin" pills. All it takes is a few news articles making misleading claims and another craze will be off and running. In about three months we'll start seeing con men peddling worthless treatments. They'll use phrases like "Harvard Medical School" and "Amazing Breakthrough in Obesity Research" and "New Hormone that Eliminates Obesity" or "Exercise in a Pill."
Of course there won't be any actual irisin hormone in the pills. They'll stuff them full of cheap fillers and sell them for a ridiculously high price. You've been warned.
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