Researchers have developed a pill that recreates the effects of exercise without the user needing to lift a finger, but are they safe to use?
What if you could simply take a pill to stay in shape instead of hitting the gym everyday? According to a report from Shape, while this might sound like something out of a science fiction story, researchers have come startlingly close to developing a compound that does just this.
Compound 14, a molecule that causes similar bodily effects to exercise, can offer various health benefits including weight loss and decreased blood sugar without the time or effort needed to work out.
A recent study published in the journal Chemistry and Biology examined the effects of the chemical on mice, and found that it tricks cells into thinking they are starving. This jumpstarts the cells’ metabolism, increases oxygen uptake and the burning of fat and glucose. Together, these reactions make up most peoples’ responses to good old-fashioned exercise.
The researchers found that obese mice returned to normal blood sugar levels almost immediately after receiving a single shot of compound 14. Heavier mice that received the drug for a week lost five percent of their overall body weight and improved their ability to metabolize glucose. The drug did not cause much of a change in mice of normal weight.
Dr. Ali Tavassoli of the University of Southampton in England was stunned by the results. He believes the compound could be used to treat type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and various forms of cancer.
The real danger in the compound lies in people believing it would be a suitable substitute for actual exercise. “I hope that this is not seen as a replacement for exercise, but something that works in synergy,” Tavassoli said. “If your only reason for exercising is weight loss, then the compound alone may be sufficient – but this won’t help you run faster, cycle further, or hit the tennis ball harder.”