Drug can cause weight loss syndrome, study finds

Unicamp study evaluated changes in lipid profile of 20 overweight women treated with the drug orlistat

Foto: Antoninho Perri/Ascom/Unicamp
Thiago Inacio Barros Lopes, author of the study.
Thiago Inacio Barros Lopes, author of the study.

Research of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) with the drug orlistat, the same active ingredient in alli or xenical, indicated for the treatment of obesity, proved that the drug can alter the fatty acid profile of the human organism and that in the long term, can lead to a syndrome characterized by this deficiency.

The study, which involved 20 women attending the Research Laboratory of Metabolism and Diabetes (Limed) of Gastrocentro evaluated changes in lipid profile of overweight patients treated with this drug.

The orlistat decreased absorption of fatty acids and for metabolic analysis, promoted some changes in the level of essential fatty acids (those that the body can not produce) and other metabolites such as lactate (produced after firing of glucose for energy supply without the presence of O2), and a slight reduction of calcium from patients investigated.

These women were in their 40s, in premenopausal, with BMIs between 25 and 30. As researcher Ignatius Thiago Barros Lopes, they were chosen because the female is the gender that makes more use at the time of slimming drugs.

The use of orlistat, the author explains, prevents fat absorption, and also reduces the occurrence of some compounds with fat absorbed. The author of the study then found that the drug does not affect only the lipid profile, which involves a series of tests to determine dosages colesteral total, HDL and LDL triglycerides. The effects go beyond weight loss, such as lower rates of cholesterol.

Essential fatty acids are building blocks of fat for every cell in the body, for performing functions such as energy production, increasing metabolism and muscle growth, oxygen transport, normal cell growth and hormonal regulation, among others. With its fall, people are more prone to the appearance of syndromes. Nevertheless, Thiago notes that this problem can be easily resolved with supplementation of nutrients and measures to curb the decreased level of calcium.

By comparing their study with other literature, the chemist noticed the change in the lipid profile of fatty acids, created by orlistat, is similar to what occurs with diet restriction, where the fat level decreases. Its mechanism of action, since it is not absorbed systemically and acts only in the gastrointestinal tract such as gastric lipase inhibitor, is actually correct, admits Thiago.

This drug acts in the digestive system by preventing fat consumed is absorbed by the body and brings weight gain. It was discovered in the 1990s and blocking the absorption of up to 30% of fats ingested by inhibition of lipase enzyme responsible for the digestion of fats.

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