Researchers have found that the sex drug Viagra could also be used to prevent excess weight gain.

Scientists at Germany’s University of Bonn discovered the drug converts white fat cells into beige ones and could thus potentially melt the unwelcome “spare tyre” that lurks around many a midriff.

The results of the study conducted on mice were published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

viagra

Is there anything the little blue pill can't do?

It was also found the drug, which is most commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction, decreases the risk of other complications caused by obesity.

Viagra – which is also known as Sildenafil – prevents degradation of cyclic guanosine mono-phosphate (cGMP), which then ensures blood supply for an erection.

The fact mice given sildenafil over longer periods of time were resistant to obesity when fed with high-fat diet has been known for some time.

Yet the cause for this reduced weight gain had been unclear, which is where the latest research is able to shed some light.

"We have been researching the effect of cGMP on fat cells for quite some time now," reports Professor Doctor Alexander Pfeifer, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn.

fat tummy

Viagra - which is also known as Sildenafil - could potentially 'melt' the spare tyre that lurks around many a midriff

"This is why sildenafil was a potentially interesting candidate for us."

The team found that the drug converts undesirable white fat cells into beige ones

Together with the PharmaCenter of the University of Bonn, the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, the team around Professor Pfeifer studied the effect of sildenafil on fat cells in mice.

The researchers administered the potency drug to the rodents for seven days. "The effects were quite amazing," says Dr Ana Kilic, one of Professor Pfeifer's colleagues.

Sildenafil increased the conversion of white fat cells, which are found in human 'problem areas', into beige ones in the animals.

"Beige fat cells burn the energy from ingested food and convert it to heat, says Professor Pfeifer. Because the beige fat cells can "melt the fat" and thus fight obesity, researchers are hopeful for their potential.

In addition, the researchers observed that if white fat cells are further "stuffed" they increase in size and can synthesise and release hormones which in turn cause inflammation thus increasing the persons risk for chronic diseases.

Such inflammatory responses may then lead to, for example, cardio-vascular diseases resulting in heart attacks and strokes, as well as cancer and diabetes. "It seems that sildenafil prevented the fat cells in these mice from getting onto that slippery slope," reports Professor Pfeifer. Thus overall, the development of white cells seems to be healthier.

Globally, over half a billion people are overweight.

"Sildenafil is not only able to minimise erectile problems, but it can also reduce the risks of gaining excessive weight," says Professor Pfeifer.

The researchers may have found a mechanism that allows converting the undesirable white fat cells into the "good" beige (brown-like) fat cells that "melt" away excess pounds. In addition, it might be possible to decrease complications related with obesity. "But this will need to be proven in additional studies," adds Dr Kilic.

Despite this, Professor Pfeifer does warn against popping those little blue pills willy nilly just yet…

He points out all the experiments so far have been carried out on mice, and thus it could be some time before potentially suitable drugs for decreasing white fat cells in humans are available on the shelves.

Darn it...

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  • Ready, Steady, Oooh!

    Do you want to <em>really</em> get into the spirit of the London 2012 Games? Get busy under the sheets with these Olympic-inspired sex positions that are guaranteed to pass the time during the boring bits. Tips provided by <strong>Emily Dubberley</strong>, author of upcoming book, <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Acrobatic-Sex-Positions-Moves-Crazy/dp/1592335373" target="_hplink"><em><strong>Acrobatic Sex Positions</strong></em></a>, available in December. Emily is also founder of erotic blog, <a href="http://www.cliterati.co.uk/" target="_hplink"><em>Cliterati</em></a>.

  • The Skier

    <strong>How To:</strong> The man lies on the bed with his buttocks at the edge of the bed, legs in the air. The woman starts by lying on top of the man with her back against his chest and pelvis above his, then slides onto him. She should then gradually sit up and lean forward, taking it slowly to ensure she doesn't bend her man the wrong way. Once the woman is sitting up, she should slowly lower her legs onto the floor then rock back and forth as desired. The man should keep his legs raised throughout (thus allowing easy access for the woman to reach between her own legs to stroke his penis and balls) though he can rest them against the woman's back if this proves too hard on his thighs. <strong>Acrobatic tip:</strong> The woman should use her love muscles to raise herself, Pilates style, when starting this position. Not only will it make things easier, but it'll tighten everything up, too.

  • The Diver

    <strong>How To</strong>: The woman lies on her back on the bed with her hips aligned with the edge of the bed and legs splayed. The man then does a handstand at the side of the bed, with his body angled toward the bed to allow him to slide inside her. The woman controls the thrusts by flexing her pelvic floor muscles and arching her hips off the bed. <strong>Acrobatic Tip:</strong> If the man is über-fit, he can control his thrusts by pumping his arms push-up style. This is not for the faint-hearted!

  • The Skewered Hurdler

    <strong>How To:</strong> The guy lies back leaning against a sofa or bed for support. The woman then straddles him sideways splits-style, resting her hands on the floor to allow her to control her bouncing. The man can assist by putting his hands on her hips to help her move up and down should she start to tire. <strong>Acrobatic Tip: </strong> The seriously bendy babe can try leaning all the way forward to rest her head against her ankle, thus giving constant clitoral contact against the guy's upper thigh. If the guy's as limber as the woman, he can also do the splits, thus allowing easy access to his balls and bottom. Male G-spot stimulation, you say? That'll do nicely.

  • The Kiss-Up

    <strong>How To:</strong> Lie on the bed missionary style, with the man on top of the woman and his weight supported on his hands. He should then start doing press ups, letting his lips meet his lover's every time their faces meet. Once he is feeling suitably warmed up, swap positions so that the woman is on top and has to do press ups to kiss her man. <strong>Acrobatic Tip:</strong> When you're both feeling as if your upper body is primed and ready for action, it's time to put your lower half through its paces.

  • The Weightlifter

    <strong>How To:</strong> The woman wraps her legs around the man's waist and slides onto him. The man puts his arms around her waist, and the woman slowly relaxes her body entirely, leaving the man to totally support her weight and move her body as he desires. <strong>Acrobatic Tip:</strong> The woman can raise one or both legs to rest against the man's shoulders to deepen penetration - but don't even think of trying this unless the man is very strong indeed, and the woman has a toned pelvic floor.

  • The Deep Bender

    <strong>How To:</strong> The woman lies on the bed with her head hanging over the side. The man then straddles her face and slides inside her mouth, then squats down to touch his fingers to the floor and enjoy deep throat into the bargain. <strong>Acrobatic Tip:</strong> The woman can put her hands on the man's hips to control the pace and help avoidgagging. However, by hanging her head backwards, she'll lengthen her throat which should minimise the risk.

  • The Bow and Arrow

    <strong>How To:</strong> It's time for spreading those thighs wide once more, but this time the woman can use her hands to help her maintain the position. She simply lies on the floor or bed with her legs spread as widely as possible and hands gripping her ankles. Talk about an open invitation for the guy to kneel between her thighs and start thrusting! Caressing the thighs as he thrusts will add extra-sensual pleasure for the woman. <strong>Acrobatic Tip:</strong> For a real challenge, the guy can spread his thighs equally wide and lean forward to kiss his lover. Yep, it's a stretch, but the clitoral stimulation it provides will make his partner's squeals all the reward that he needs.