Sunday, February 8, 2015

Your brain is a powerful fat-burning tool

You don't need to be Charles Xavier to use your brain to burn fat.
You don't need to be Charles Xavier to use your brain to burn fat.
Study suggests that your brain could coach your body to burn fat, says research.
The brain could be a powerful fat burning tool, say scientists at Monash University in Melbourne who discovered that two naturally occurring hormones interact to convert energy-storing white fat into energy-burning, “good” brown fat.
“Turning white fat into brown fat is a very exciting new approach to developing weight loss agents,” says lead author Professor Tony Tiganis from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “Eventually, we think we may be able to help people lose weight by targeting these two enzymes.”
One of the enzymes, leptin, is an appetite suppressant that’s generated in fat cells and the other is insulin, which comes from the pancreas when levels of glucose in the blood start to rise.

Tiganis’ research shows that the two hormones act together and persuade a group of neurons – called proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons – in the brain to convert the fat from white to brown, thereby igniting the fat-burning process.
“These hormones give the brain a comprehensive picture of the fatness of the body,” says Tiganis. “Because leptin is produced by fat cells, it measures the level of existing fat reserves – the more fat, the more leptin. Whereas insulin provides a measure of future fat reserves because glucose levels rise when we eat.”
If all this has you wondering why you can’t just think your way skinny, chances are enzymes called phosphatases that inhibit the actions of leptin and insulin could be working against you.
Tiganis’ team found that when phosphatases were reduced, more brown fat was created and more fat was burned.
Don’t give up your diet or cancel your gym membership just yet!
Tiganis says any potential therapy based on his team’s research is still a long way off.
Brown fat cells, also called adipocytes, occur most densely around the neck and shoulders, according to the researchers, whose study was published in the journal Cell.
That white adipocytes can be converted to brown has been suggested by several studies revealing a variety of methods to do so.
For example, a study at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands says it’s possible to create brown fat by keeping your surroundings cool, while another published in the journal Cell Press indicates that Mirabegron, a drug normally used to treat an overactive bladder, could also do the job. – AFP Relaxnews

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vasalgel - Male Birth Control Without Condom

male birth control
Men could get a single injection of Vasalgel, a polymer that stops their sperm from entering and impregnating their partner. 

Scientists have been working on a form of male birth control for years now, but it’s possible that we finally have a winner. Vasalgel, a non-hormonal polymer that blocks the sperm-shooting vas deferens in men, has shown promising results in a baboon study and could be available by 2017.
The Parsemus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that develops low-cost medical approaches, aims to start human trials for this contraceptive by next year. After finding that baboons injected with Vasalgel didn’t impregnate the 10 to 15 female baboons with which they shared the same space, scientists saw the possibility of the injection working in humans, too.
Vasalgel is non-hormonal and only requires a single shot to be effective for a long time. A polymer contraceptive is injected into the vas deferens, which transports sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts. Unlike a vasectomy, which is permanent, Vasalgel could be reversed by flushing the polymer out with another injection, leaving sperm open, free, and available to do their job once more. If Vasalgel proves successfuly in human trials, couples in long-term relationships could enjoy sex without the hassle of condoms — and the adverse side effects and expenses of the female pill.

'Revolutionizing' Birth Control?

If Vasalgel, or something like it, becomes widespread, then unwanted pregnancies — which occur at rates of 80 to 90 percent in women younger than age 19 — could also drop significantly. Females would no longer be under pressure to ask their partners to wear condoms or to take the pill themselves. Men, likewise, could find a quick and easy solution to having frequent sex without having to worry about babies.
So if this becomes a birth control revolution of sorts, everyone is happy, right? Probably not big pharmaceutical companies, who hope to maintain female birth control pill sales and will most likely put up a fight to keep their businesses afloat. These companies make their money off a pill that must be taken every day and thus replenished; this cycle keeps the cash coming in. As Samantha Allen writes on The Daily Beast, “Why sell a flat-screen television to a man, after all, when you can rent one to a woman for a decade?” A single injection contraceptive could create a barrier for female pill business.
One of the ways that current birth control pill companies might fight back is through advertising the other potential health benefits of pills, such as claiming they relieve period-related issues like cramps or headaches. In 2009, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cracked down on the popular pill Yaz, which advertised that it could also cure pimples or PMS symptoms, in addition to preventing pregnancy. But instead of helping other health issues, female birth control pills are more likely to cause adverse side effects, including headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness, nausea, bleeding, decreased libido, mood swings, and depression. In addition, birth control pills have been shown to slightly increase your risk of stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and liver tumors — especially among smokers. While this doesn't mean that female birth control users are damaging their health, it simply means that a potential male contraceptive could be safer than ever before — for both parties.
There is yet another thing to consider: Will Vasalgel also reduce condom use, and thus protection against sexually transmitted diseases? If a man gets a Vasalgel injection and stops using condoms for birth control, he might have a higher chance of getting or spreading STDs. But male birth control is still a few years away — and trials will first need to be completed in humans. So for now, condoms are probably your one-stop shop for protection against both pregnancy and STDs.