Is the Magical Boner Pill Viagra Also the Answer to All Weight-Loss Dreams?

Illustration for article titled Is the Magical Boner Pill Viagra Also the Answer to All Weight-Loss Dreams?

The science community has some unexpected good news for all the dead-eyed mouth-breathers out there staring down in the direction of the flaccid penises they can no longer see because their genitals have been smothered in a pyroclastic flow of groin fat that erupted from their bellies sometime during the Iran-Contra affair — in addition to its magical dick-healing properties, Viagra could also one day become the miracle weight loss cure Americans have been praying to the pharmacological gods for. Praise Science!

After treating mice with sildenafil (the fancy-pants name for Viagra), researchers at the University of Bonn found that the drug converts evil, blubber-hoarding white fat cells, meaning it could eventually be used to help "melt" belly fat. Like a ray gun. Or fire. Sildenafil works by preventing "degradation of cyclic guanosine mono-phosphate (cGMP)," which makes sure that plenty of blood can rush into the penis and produce a strong, bull-like erection. The fat-blocking effects of sildenafil had been already been notice a while ago when researchers found that mice fed sildenafil over long periods of time became more resistant to obesity even when fed a high-fat diet. However, the new findings, according to a research team led by Professor Alexander Pfeifer, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn, help elucidate the fat stifling mystery that has plagued scientists for eons:

The researchers administered the potency drug to the rodents for seven days. "The effects were quite amazing," says Dr. Ana Kilic, one of Prof. 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 Prof. Pfeifer. Because the beige fat cells can "melt the fat" and thus fight obesity, researchers are very hopeful for their potential.

In addition, the researchers observed something else of interest. If white fat cells are further "stuffed"/accumulating lipids, they are increasing in size and can synthesize and release hormones which in turn cause inflammation thus increasing the persons risk for chronic diseases. Such inflammatory responses may then lead to, e.g., 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 Prof. Pfeifer. Overall, the development of white cells seems to be healthier.


So, not only could Viagra help torch (as in, with a pharmacological flamethrower) people fat, but it could also keep white fat cells from falling down a slippery slope and into a bramble of strokes and heart attacks. Golly, Viagra, what can't you do?

Pfeifer (which looks suspiciously like Pfizer...coincidence??) and his team have stressed that their research merely represents an initial step, and that people shouldn't think that they can start filling their commemorative Yoda Pez dispensers with Viagra to get ready for beach season. That would be a bad idea. It'll take a long time before a viable drug that reduces white fat cells in humans can be manufactured, but when it does hit markets, you can bet your grandfather's midcentury penis pump that it'll be stamped with a swooping "V," a symbol that will soon become as ubiquitous and omnipotent as the Nike swoosh or Coca Cola's calligraphy.

Are you just a teensie bit frightened that Viagra, by cornering the markets on weight loss and penis functionality, will become our corporate overlords sometime in the not-too-distant future? You should be, because once a weight-loss Viagra derivative hits pharmacies, it's only a matter of time before cereal companies try to make up the ground they lost during the great sugar crisis of their early 21st century by coating all of their loops, flakes, and mini-wheats with an artificially-sweetened sildenafil varnish. Instead of lightsabers and interstellar travel, a dystopian future of skeletal children running around with permanent erections awaits us. Ray Bradbury would have shit his pants if he'd lived to see it.

Viagra converts fat cells [EurekAlert]

Image via Sean Nel / Shutterstock

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I wonder what would happen if instead of prescribing Viagra, doctors recommended ED sufferers lay off the porn and foster better relationships with their sexual/romantic partners.