Hot sauce ingredient reduces 'beer belly' fat as a weight-loss surgery alternative

May 9, 2012

According to research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), the ingredient that gives hot sauce its heat could play a role in the future of weight loss.

Ali Tavakkoli, MD, BWH Department of Surgery, and his team have published a study investigating whether two surgeries called vagal de-afferentation—which uses capsaicin, the component responsible for the chili pepper's burning sensation—and vagatomy can achieve and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases with fewer side effects when compared to today's bariatric surgical options.

The study is published in the May issue of Digestive Diseases and Sciences. The study is accompanied by an editorial by Edward A. Fox, PhD, Purdue University.

After testing the two surgeries in the lab, the researchers found that vagotomy significantly reduced total body fat, as well as visceral abdominal fat—the "beer belly" fat that pads the spaces between abdominal organs. Vagal de-afferentation also reduced these fats, but to a lesser degree.

However, according to the researchers, the reduction is still remarkable.

"The reduction in visceral fat is particularly important," said Tavakkoli. "High visceral fat volume is a marker of obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes. Preferentially lost after vagal de-afferentation highlights the potential for this procedure."

Vagotomy involves removing the vagus nerve, which sends information between the gut and the brain. Vagal de-afferentation also involves the vagus nerve. But rather than removing the nerve completely, surgeons use capsaicin to destroy only certain nerve fibers.

Capsaicin destroys the nerve fibers that take signals from the gut to the brain, leaving intact the fibers that send signals in the opposite direction, from the brain to the gut.

Between the two surgeries, vagal de-afferentation is associated with fewer side effects.

The researchers note that more work needs to be done on whether these surgeries can be used on humans, and whether capsaicin could be applied directly to human vagal fibers. The study results, however, provide promise of what the future can hold.

"As demand for that reduce weight and obesity-related diseases increases, procedures that can achieve success in a less invasive fashion will become increasingly important," said Tavakkoli. "This is an important and developing surgical discipline, especially as diabetes rates soar worldwide, and people try to find effective therapies to fight this epidemic."

Explore further: A new candidate pathway for treating visceral obesity

Related Stories

A new candidate pathway for treating visceral obesity

May 6, 2012
Brown seems to be the color of choice when it comes to the types of fat cells in our bodies. Brown fat expends energy, while its counterpart, white fat stores it. The danger in white fat cells, along with the increased risk ...

Scientists identify key area that could sever communication between brain and heart in disease

November 28, 2011
A team of neuroscientists and anaesthetists, who have been using pioneering techniques to study how the brain regulates the heart, has identified a crucial part of the nervous system whose malfunction may account for an increased ...

Soluble fiber strikes a blow to belly fat

June 27, 2011
All fat is not created equal. Unsightly as it is, subcutaneous fat, the fat right under the skin, is not as dangerous to overall health as visceral fat, the fat deep in the belly surrounding vital organs.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.