In a new study, researchers found a common drug people have used for a long time may help with lose-term weight loss effectively.
According to the team, the treatment is safe and inexpensive.
The research was conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network.
Being overweight and obesity are big risk factors for many chronic diseases.
For example, previous studies have shown that obesity is linked to many cancers, such as liver cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
Obesity is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Many people try to lose weight with exercises and diets, but they only succeed in the short-term and regain their weight soon. This can lead to yo-yo dieting and harm people’s health.
Most new weight-loss drugs are approved for long-term use, but they can be expensive if they are not covered by health insurance.
In the study, the team aimed to find an easier way for long-term weight loss.
They focused on this inexpensive weight-loss drug called phentermine. It is currently FDA-approved and for short-term use only.
They analyzed data from the electronic health records of 13,972 people who were prescribed phentermine for short-term use versus longer-term use of a year or more.
They compared weight loss and blood pressure changes for up to two years and the risks of heart attack and stroke for up to three years.
The researchers found the drug may be safe and effective for longer-term weight loss treatment.
People who used phentermine longer had greater weight loss than those who took the drug for three months or less.
Moreover, longer-term use of the drug was not linked to high blood pressure or increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death.
The finding suggests that phentermine may help people achieve long-term weight loss successfully.
However, the team cautioned that phentermine is a stimulant and should not be used in people with a history of heart disease, stroke or uncontrolled high blood pressure.
It is only for people who have low cardiac risk, normal blood pressure or high blood pressure that is well treated.
It is important for people to talk with their doctors before using the drug.
Future clinic work needs to confirm the findings.
At the moment, there is no change to the FDA labeling so doctors should be careful when prescribing it longer-term.
The lead author of the study is Kristina H. Lewis, M.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention, at Wake Forest Baptist.
The study is published in the journal Obesity.
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