A new study conducted by researchers at University of Cambridge reveals that the reason why cocaine users lose weight is because the drug prevents their bodies from storing fat.
It was previously assumed that cocaine users lost weight because the drug leads to a loss of appetite. However researchers found that cocaine users had poorer diets, full of fatty foods and carbohydrates, compared non-cocaine users and the reason for their weight loss was because of their bodies' inability to store fat. This effect was lost when the users stopped taking the drug, leading to dramatic weight gain and could be one of the reasons why weight conscious drug users sometimes resumed taking the drug.
Researchers led by Dr Karen Ersche compared the habits of 30 cocaine-dependant men with 30 non-cocaine users and found that while drug users opted for poorer diets, they continued to lose weight while the levels of hormone leptin, which controls appetite, were cut in the drug users, leading to severe over-eating.
"We were surprised how little body fat the cocaine users had in light of their reported consumption of fatty food. It seems that regular cocaine abuse directly interferes with metabolic processes and thereby reduces body fat. This imbalance between fat intake and fat storage may also explain why these individuals gain so much weight when they stop using cocaine", Dr Ersche said.