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Asthma Drug May Be Fat-Burner Pill

Formoterol Boosted Fat Burning Up to 25% in Study
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Asthma Drug as Fat-Burner Drug continued...

"If we lose more fat than muscle, that's a good thing," Lee says.

The inhaled form of the drug can cause an abnormally fast heartbeat, but Lee did not see this side effect in the men who took the pill form.

"Some had insomnia, but it was mild," he says. It was also temporary. "Some reported loss of appetite."

In addition to burning fat, the drug might prevent or treat muscle wasting that can accompany age. "It may potentially reverse or prevent this process and treat frailty," Lee says.

The National Health Medical Research Council Australia funded the study.

Asthma Drug as Fat-Burner Pill: Expert Weigh-In

Other drugs in this class have been looked at as fat burners, says Greenway, professor and chief of outpatient clinical research at Pennington.

"They do increase lean tissue and reduce body fat," he says of the drugs, in general. But he doesn't expect the weight loss results to be dramatic.

Reducing fat, however, should make people healthier, he tells WebMD. If the testing on the asthma drug bears out, he says, and it comes into use, "people would presumably look much better, but not tinier, if you will. If you get on the scale [after using the drug] you might not see a big difference."

''The report is certainly intriguing," says Bruce Wolfe, MD, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and professor of surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland.

However, he says, the increase Lee found in fat burning is modest. It would not take much to eat away the 200 or so extra calories burned with the pill, he says. "Eating a couple of cookies would do it."

However, over time, he says, taking the fat-burning pill could make a noticeable difference.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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