Viagra's Hidden Uses: Diet Pill, Cancer Fighter?

In mice, drug shows potential beyond ED

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 29, 2013 8:06 AM CST | Updated Feb 2, 2013 12:54 PM CST

(Newser) – Viagra may have a future well beyond erectile dysfunction. Someday, we could perhaps see it prescribed for weight loss—or even to combat cancer, in combination with green tea. Scientists know that mice have lower rates of obesity, despite fatty diets, when they're on the drug. Now, researchers in Germany have an idea why: Viagra plays a role in turning white fat cells—a factor in overweight humans' "spare tires"—into beige ones, which burn energy, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, researchers in Japan have found that the drug may be handy in fighting cancer, if it's taken with a dose of green tea. A scientist had earlier found that a chemical in green tea could apparently fight cancer—but a human enzyme may have been getting in the way. Viagra blocks this enzyme. The researcher gave cancerous mice a combination of the substances and found that cancer cells stopped developing, the Japan Times reports. But in both Viagra studies, the researchers warn: Don't try it at home. "This pill is approved by the FDA for a particular purpose for a reason," says one.

Does Viagra have a future in dieting?
Does Viagra have a future in dieting?   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
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