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The Chemical Craving for Alcohol and Fatty Foods

Ever wondered why consuming copious amounts of alcohol and fatty foods appear to go hand-in-hand (and seem to be marketed that way too)? According to a Princeton University study, galanin, a brain chemical that generates the hunger for food and fat, also triggers the thirst for alcohol and may play a role in chronic drinking.

Rats injected with galanin, a natural signaling agent in the brain, drank increasing quantities of alcohol even while consuming normal amounts of food and water. In other words, consuming alcohol produces a cyclical effect in the brain: The more alcohol one drinks the more galanin is produced which shoots alcohol consumption upward.

Galanin, a kind of small protein fragment called a neuropeptide, had previously been shown to play a role in appetite, particularly for fatty foods. Consumption of fat causes a part of the brain called the hypothalamus to produce more galanin, which, in turn, increases the appetite for fat. In a healthy person, however, there are counteracting signals that break this loop.

When animals were given a drug that blocked the effects of galanin, however, they maintained normal eating and drinking habits.

These findings merely add credence to a study I posted earlier this week about the link between alcohol and cancer. I firmly believe the alcohol found in such beverages is poisonous and will unbalance your hormones.

EurekAlert December 15, 2004

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