"Virus Is Linked To Weight Problems In Humans"
by Marilynn Marchione, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (from Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Tuesday Morning, April 8, 1997.
A virus known to cause obesity in animals has been tied to weight problems in humans, raising the possibility that some people "catch" obesity and that, in some cases, it could be an infectious disease.
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers presented the findings yesterday at the Experimental Biology meeting in New Orleans.
Their preliminary study found that 15 percent of obese people have antibodies to the virus, indicating they were exposed to it, but that no people of average weight did.
"This is the first link of a human virus with human obesity," said Nikhil Dhurandhar, a research scientist who conducted the study with Professor Richard Atkinson, an endocrinologist and nationally known obesity expert.
It is one of the most significant findings in the obesity field in years, and it opens a new area of research and potential treatment.
"The implications are enormous," said John Foreyt, a psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who specializes in the behavioral aspects of obesity.
He called the research "startling" and "potentially a real breakthrough" in helping explain why 26 percent of American adults were obese in 1980 but 35 percent or more are now.
"People are still struggling with why this enormous increase in obesity" has occurred, because diet, sedentary lifestyles, genetic predispositions and metabolism problems don't explain the whole trend, Foreyt said.
Atkinson agreed. "This increase is the type of pattern that might occur with a new infectious disease, as has been seen with the AIDS virus," he said.
"Here we have the possibility that obesity is a viral disease," he said, adding that it may give people ammunition to fight for insurance coverage for weight-loss treatment because they could argue: "I've got a reason. I'm not just a fat slob."
The notion of obesity as an infectious disease is unconventional, Atkinson said, but he added, "Fifteen years ago if you said ulcers were due to bacteria, people would have said you were nuts," and yet that's now known to be the case.
The mechanism by which the virus might cause or contribute to obesity isn't known.
"Anything I'd say would be speculative," Atkinson said. "It's a provocative thing, and we've got a lot of work to do."
An infectious disease scenario also might explain why some people are lean in life.
"We see people who become obese in their 20s, 30s, or 40s all the time," he said.
Before now, five animal viruses were known to cause obesity in animals, but no human virus had been implicated.
The study involved adenovirus 36, or Ad-36. There are more than 50 adenoviruses, including many that cause the common cold. They're transmitted through the air and person-to-person contact.
"There's so much we don't know about this, but it doesn't appear to be a very common virus," Atkinson said.
The research was conducted in two parts. First, lab animals were injected with Ad-36 to test the theory that it could cause obesity.
"Animals become fat and surprisingly have low cholesterol and triglycerides," the opposite of what you'd expect to find, Dhurandhar said.
Next, they tested 199 people - 154 obese and 45 lean - for antibodies to Ad-36. About 15 percent of the obese people had the antibodies, but none of the people of average weight did.
Nearly 30 other factors that might explain weight differences between the two groups - age, family history or obesity, diseases such as diabetes, kidney and liver function, and so on - were compared.
"Nothing showed up to be different" except the antibodies to Ad-36, Atkinson said.
The researchers have received approval of a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study Ad-36 in more detail. They hope to start in about six months, Atkinson said.
True story: Previously obese Bob Beck lost 145 pounds in a few months by getting rid of the obesity virus with the use of his blood electrification Black Box unit. He had previously tried all different kinds of diets, including being injected with pregnant mares urine. Robert Beck now believes electro-medicine is an alternative treatment to cure overweight caused by the adeno-virus Ad-36. He said that 40% of the overweight people who used his protocol lost all the weight they wanted to lose. He claimed, in addition to Ad-36, that microbes in the hypothalmous were sending signals to the brain to "store" all food.
The Beck device seems to have supressed my appetite. I am overweight at 275 lbs. Before using it I felt the need to snack after supper before the evening was over. I no longer feel this desire so it should be relatively easy to lose the weight. I should mention that when I was younger I could eat all I wanted and never gained an ounce (was about 170 Lb). Then I made a trip to Africa. After that I could not keep the weight down. I enlisted tha aid of a dietition and had to eat way less than I was used to doing to get down to 185 Lbs. Slowly over the years my weight has increased to what it now is. I beleive I may have picked up a pathogen while in Africa that has caused my overweight condition and the Beck device has killed it. My health has been exellent since I started using the Beck device.
More info on this was in the NEW SCIENTIST Aug 2000 issue. It said that a telltale sign of Ad-36 infection was below normal blood cholesterol levels.