Alzheimer's drug may reduce urge.

Position:Binge Eating

Binge-eating disorder affects nearly 10,000,000 American adults, by some estimates. It is a vicious condition in which people repeatedly ingest huge amounts of food--often high-calorie sweets and fatty snacks --in a couple hours or less. Perhaps the worst part of the disorder is that each binge leads to feelings of embarrassment, self-disgust, and depression. However, research from the Boston (Mass.) University School of Medicine demonstrates that an Alzheimer's drug called memantine may reduce the impulse to binge eat by acting on an area of brain associated with addictive behavior.

"The disorder resembles addiction more than any other eating disorders. Binge eaters understand the consequences of their behavior, but they can't stop. It's a compulsion," relates senior author Pietro Cottone, associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders.

Cottone says that binge eating triggers patterns of chemical responses in the brain that are similar to those in drug and alcohol addiction. In all of these disorders, a region called the nucleus accumbens, which provides a communication link between the emotional...

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