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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007 Jun;32(5):548-54. Epub 2007 May 2.

Effects of an antiandrogenic oral contraceptive on appetite and eating behavior in bulimic women.

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Department of Woman and Child Health, Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


High androgen levels in women with bulimia nervosa may promote bulimic behavior. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of an antiandrogenic oral contraceptive (OC) on appetite and eating behavior in women with bulimia nervosa compared to healthy controls. Twenty-one women with bulimia nervosa and 17 healthy controls matched for age and body mass index participated in the study. Basal and meal-related appetite and secretions of the satiety peptide cholecystokinin (CCK) and the appetite-stimulating peptide ghrelin were studied before and after 3 months of treatment with an antiandrogenic OC (30 microg ethinyl estradiol combined with 3 mg drospirenone). Bulimic behavior was evaluated in relation to changes in hormone levels. Before treatment, bulimic women had higher frequency of menstrual disturbances, acne and hirsutism and higher levels of testosterone but lower meal-related CCK secretion than controls. OC treatment reduced meal-related hunger and gastric distention in bulimics. CCK secretion in response to the meal was unchanged in bulimic women but decreased in the controls. Ghrelin secretion was comparable between groups and did not change in response to OC treatment. The treatment improved bulimic behavior in relation to a decline in testosterone levels in the entire group. Our results support the suggestion that androgens play a role in bulimic behavior. Treatment with an antiandrogenic OC may serve as a new strategy for treatment of bulimia nervosa and particularly in those patients with hyperandrogenic symptoms.

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