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The Thin Pill

When you think about it, the Holy Grail of our modern society seems to be the Thin Pill. The one pill you take and causes an immediate weight loss. Bam! No more Lane Bryant, no more discrimination against fat people - no more fat people. It's so... neat.

Stephen sent over a BBC article detailing work on such a pill through examination of a protein, zinc alpha 2 glycoprotein (ZAG). Apparently, this protein - present in cancer patients - can cause weight loss no matter what the food intake is.

An ethical dilemma, to be sure.

Gastric Bypass Death | Disease, Condition, or Mineral?

turtlegrrl November 9th, 2003 | Link | So they are going to give us
So they are going to give us cancer in order to make us thin? And this helps those of us who already eat very normally & a lot less than a lot of naturally thin people & already exercise a lot but don't lose weight exactly HOW?!! I have always known that they figure having cancer or at least risking cancer was better than being fat.
Nancy Lebo November 9th, 2003 | Link | There's no reason on the
There's no reason on the face of it to expect that pill to cause cancer or increase the risk of it. If it works, what it does is cause the sort of wasting (an old word for undesired weight loss) seen in cancer patients. This might be dangerous for other reasons--it isn't the same as being naturally thin or dieting.
Brian November 9th, 2003 | Link | Not give cancer. Mimic
Not give cancer. Mimic cancer. Which makes about as much sense.
betizuka November 9th, 2003 | Link | The idea is quite disturbing
The idea is quite disturbing actually. If they can isolate the protein in a way where it won't affect overweight people in a bad way, then that's good. But I just don't know... Cancer is not good, is it?
Brian November 9th, 2003 | Link | Obviously, they seem to
Obviously, they seem to think there is an "upside" to cancer if it gets fat people to waste away. Fat people survive cancer at greater rates than thin people precisely because we are better equipped for a longer fight against such wasting. I can't see how there is any good way to cause fat people to suffer from the effects of cancer. But of course, if it will make us thinner, no horror is too much for some researcher.
quoda November 10th, 2003 | Link | This makes me absolutely
This makes me absolutely sick after seeing my grandma die of liver cancer. When she was well, she always got on me about my eating habits. She and I were the same size for years, and she'd sit there eating the same thing I was, but telling me I was wrong for eating such bad food. I hated talking to her because she always made me feel terrible about my size, even though she was the same (genetics...so obvious). When she got cancer, she was on chemo so she couldn't eat much, and that was terrible for her. My grandma loved to eat, and she loved to cook. As she got better, she took our family out to eat several times. She ate all she could whenever she could. But cancer is destructive, and she lost a lot of weight. I'll never forget one night when we went out and she told me she had some pants she was too small to wear and she wanted to give them to me. She said, "Sarah, I've lost so much weight, but this is the worst way to ever do it. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, ever. I'm so proud of you for working out and eating right." It was the first time she'd ever said anything like that. So seeing the weight-loss side effect of cancer as a viable solution for people? It makes me absolutely sick.
bumerry November 10th, 2003 | Link | As an asthmatic, I can
As an asthmatic, I can appreciate the idea that understanding a disease component can help a broad range of people. Asthma is an autoimmune disease, and is often studied for similar reasons. And I've been a drug guinea pig all my life. But the result is that millions of people have benefitted, even though asthma killed my brother. There are two sorts of weight loss from cancer, one from the illness, another from the treatments. Tragically, the only treatment we have for cancer is to poison the person in as controlled a way as possible and hope they have enough healthy tissue to survive. And meanwhile the cancer protein makes the person lose weight no matter how much they eat or exercise between treatments. It's horrible, and one of my best friends at church is going through it right now, and my heart goes out to everyone's pain at the thought of cancer being taken lightly. But there are some people who might benefit from weight loss difficult for them to attain, and if a blessing can come from a curse, then we shouldn't turn our backs on it. And we might be able to discover if there is actually any health benefit to losing a lot of weight, or at least what risks it might carry. Diabetes is a terrible disease, but glucose drips save millions of lives in hospitals every year -- there was something GOOD about that disease. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, but we have much better medicines for all people with psychosis because philanthropists and voters care about the suffering of seniors and funded research. Silver linings are often found in medicine -- right now thalidomide is being investigated for use in cancer patients (though not pregnant patients) with very good results with lower side effects than other drugs.
Brian November 10th, 2003 | Link | Its one thing to study a
Its one thing to study a disease in order to help people with the disease. Its one thing to discover something in the process of treating a condition which can help others. Its another to identify a negative element of a disease and start thinking about ways to induce it in other people who are detirmined to need the suffering in order to "help" them. We are right to turn our backs and those who wish to bring us pain and suffering while calling it a "blessing". This is not a blessing in surprise. This is an attempt to identify pain and suffering as something to duplicate. That is no medical advance. That is NO silver lining. This is just another case of doctors so blinded by fat hatred that they will grasp at any punishment in order to correct us. We need to stop to process of looking for any "solution" for being fat. We need to stop apologizing for our bodies AND to get others to stop demanding an apology and proposing a punishment. Trying to replicate the suffering in cancer patients because we "deserve" it is nothing for us to feel good about. Not if we want to change the way fat people are treated by the medical establishment.
Mary November 10th, 2003 | Link | I shudder at the vitriol I'm
I shudder at the vitriol I'm about to receive from Brian, but for chrissake, a woman who lost her brother to a disease is saying let's try to look at both sides of research - and she's attacked! Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective, bumerry. (And Brian, quote marks around a word, like "deserve," usually mean that someone else has said it. I couldn't find the word "deserve" anywhere on this page, except in your screed.)
turtlegrrl November 10th, 2003 | Link | I also thank you for sharing
I also thank you for sharing your story & your perspective, bumerry. And I am sorry that you lost your brother. However, I do agree with Brian that I wish that they would stop trying to "cure" us & stop thinking of normal, natural variations in body size as a disease which needs treatment. I can understand that sometimes good things come out of bad things, & that many important advances in treatment of diseases have come about as a result of the suffering & loss of some people, but I do not agree that being fat is a disease. As for the quotes, Mary, I don't think that Brian means that anyone HERE is saying that we deserve to be punished for being fat & made to suffer any indignity or risk of illness to get thin, but that he believes that the researchers & much of the medical community thinks that we are bad, out of control, lazy, gluttonous, fat because we choose to be fat, & that we deserve to suffer to get thin or to be used as guinea pigs. I also believe that many of them feel that way about us, that attitude is shown in many of the things they say about us, & now it feels as if they are saying, "Since you are all such gluttons & cannot control your eating, we will give you a drug which makes you lose weight anyway." Sorry, I am not a lazy glutton, I am not a guinea pig, & I have NO intention of taking some drug which mimics the wasting effects of cancer, whether or not it increases my cancers of developing cancer. And this is in no way an attack on bumerry or an attempt to negate her viewpoint, it is my own opinion about the weight loss industry, the "obesity" researchers, & my perfectly normal, healthy fat body which works just fine but happens to be somewhat rounder than "they" want it to be.
Brian November 10th, 2003 | Link | I know you may way fat
I know you may way fat people to be put through horrific punishments, Mary, for the crime of being fat. But I don't. And I resent your self-serving detirmination of who gets to have an opinion. Someone's brother died in a circumstance which is fundamentally not related to the issues at hand, so I'm not allowed to disagree with them? Why not attacking bummery for disagreeing with a previous poster whose grandmother died? Oh, that's right. You have an agenda here to attack size acceptance. I didn't attack her, but I wasn't going to allow a comparison to be drawn between two such distinct things. Doctors finding new ways to make fat people suffer had no comparison to doctors being able to find advancements to help people through studying a disease. That comparison is ONLY valid if someone feels fat people deserve such suffering, and that is where the comparison should fall apart. I know you're rather keen on promoting the suffering of fat people, Mary, but I'm not. And I should hope that you will find much agreement for the not making fat people suffer side of the arguement. Maybe not at the hate sites you spend your time at, but most certainly here.
Sharon November 10th, 2003 | Link | I feel that the comments on
I feel that the comments on this topic so beautifully illustrate the difficulties of reporting research in the media. If they'd said "We found that this protein induces weight loss", probably everyone would have gone "Yawn, another miracle weight loss drug, see it all before, it won't work", I guess. But mention that it happens to be something that occurs in cancer patients, and immediately all sorts of conclusions are wildly leapt to - that "they are going to give us cancer in order to make us thin", that it's going to "Mimic cancer", people will "suffer from the effects of cancer", "This is an attempt to identify pain and suffering as something to duplicate", "fat people to be put through horrific punishments". We don't know what the effect of this protein is. It may result in suffering akin to that found in cancer patients, or it may be an entirely painless side-effect-free weight-loss drug that just happens to be found in cancer patients. At any rate, leaping to such conclusions just because the word cancer is mentioned is like getting hysterical about bald people going through terrible suffering just because hair loss is a feature also found in cancer patients. We are right to be cautious. But jumping to conclusions doesn't help.
Brian November 11th, 2003 | Link | I think there is reason to
I think there is reason to be more than cautious from a field of medical research that has offered us such hair-brained schemes as amputating our digestive systems, filling our stomach's with polymers, and drugging us with speed. That they saw the wasting of cancer patients and had a proverbial light-bulb go off in their heads and start trying to replicate it in fat people is reason enough for outrage. I'm long tired of a medical communitiy that continually spends money in the persuit of the elimination of fat people.
bumerry November 12th, 2003 | Link | I don't believe that the
I don't believe that the development of a healthy weight loss method would compel me, as a fat person, to USE that treatment. After all, if safe cigarettes were invented, I assume I wouldn't be forced at gunpoint into the freezing iced over parking lot to suck down nicotine with my social work comrades. I might be more under more social pressure to stop being a goody two shoes already and get out there, but nobody would be forcing me. As far as I can tell, every single thin woman in my office is dieting at all times. I would fit in with them better if I also made a Greek Tragedy over every morsel of food I considered eating. I'm under considerable social pressure to do so. They get really exited about my naturally modest appetite and decide I'm dieting anyway. But I'm not and I don't plan to despite social pressure. So if a drug we knew at least used an endogenous protein were developed, my argument is that the safety of weight loss itself might be testable. This wouldn't force anyone to diet, but it would possibly clarify the risks inherent in large weight losses.

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