New Estrogen Compound May Curb Binge Eating

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By Sarah Thomas | August 29, 2014 10:11 AM EST

Binge eating is an eating condition in which large amounts of food are consumed at short intervals and is more prevalent among women than men. It often leads to gaining weight and obesity. Some individuals that have this kind of disorder are usually ashamed of their eating habit that's why they tend to hide their symptoms and eat in secret.

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Contestant Sonya Thomas competes in the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York July 4, 2014. Hurricane Arthur dampened many Independence Day plans but didn't wash out the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, where a slate of men and women professional eaters competed for purses of $20,000.

A research conducted by the Children's Nutrition Research Centre at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital found that the hormone estrogen activated the serotonin neurons in the brain causing a decline in binge eating in female mice.

Studies show that irregular menstrual cycles cause binge eating. Senior author of the paper and assistant professor of pediatrics, Dr. Yong Xu said that the data they had collected on menstrual cycles affecting binge eating indicated that the hormones in women was a significant determining factor in the development or prevention of the disorder.

Researchers saw that the hormone inhibited binge eating in mice and this was true for humans as well. Xu explained that in women who have irregular menstrual cycles, the reason for the development of binge eating was because their estrogen function was somehow damaged. Since this hormone was essential to stop the disorder, damage to it would result in the development of the disorder.

They then began to look into the receptors that mediated the estrogen effect on binge eating, researchers said, they found that the receptor alpha, "expressed by serotonin neurons in the brain", mediates the effect of estrogen to curb binge eating.

The present estrogen therapy is extremely dangerous and can cause breast cancer. To solve this, researchers of Indiana University, who are Xu's collaborators developed a compound called GLP-1-estrogen. The compound they states would help control body weight and it would not increase the risk of breast cancer. This explanation was explained on which that "the compound does not deliver estrogen to the breast tissue".

When this compound was injected in the mice, it triggered the activity of the hormone in the serotonin region of the brain, this is where the binge eating behaviour is either stimulated or curbed. The compound successfully curbed binge eating in mice.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer / )
Contestant Sonya Thomas competes in the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York July 4, 2014. Hurricane Arthur dampened many Independence Day plans but didn't wash out the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, where a slate of men and women professional eaters competed for purses of $20,000.
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