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People Less Interested In Food are More Likely to Get Addicted to Cocaine

Update Date: Jun 26, 2012 09:02 AM EDT

For a long time, scientists have believed that food could become a "drug of abuse" like cocaine. The belief possibly stemmed from the fact that the desire to eat and activity such as drug taking was associated with the brain's "reward" circuitry.

But a new research has found that in reality, the brain works opposite of the popular belief. A study shows that people who are not interested in food may be more likely to take cocaine.

"Using genetic approaches, we found that increased appetite for food can actually be associated with decreased interest in novelty as well as in cocaine, and on the other hand, less interest in food can predict increased interest in cocaine," Dr Marcelo Dietrich, of Yale School of Medicine was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

According to the researchers, neurons associated with overeating were also associated with non-food activities, such as drug taking.

For the study, researchers studied mice from which the signaling molecule that controls hunger-promoting neurons in the hypothalamus was taken out.

The mice were later tested to see how they respond to novelty, anxiety, and also, their reaction to cocaine was noted.

"We found that animals that have less interest in food are more interested in novelty-seeking behaviors and drugs like cocaine. This suggests that there may be individuals with increased drive of the reward circuitry, but who are still lean. This is a complex trait that arises from the activity of the basic feeding circuits during development, which then impacts the adult response to drugs and novelty in the environment," Professor Tamas Horvath was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

Horvath further said that the modern view associates obesity with increased drive of the reward circuitry. However, the research has provided a contrary view. It has shown that people can have an increased drive for the reward circuitry and can still be lean. Also, indicating that people with no interest in food could be more prone to drug addiction.

The study was published in Nature Neuroscience.

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