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It's a dieters' dream: Eat what you want and never gain weight. But shedding pounds is an unwanted health issue for those who have cachexia--uncontrollable weight loss unaffected by eating. Cachexia adds significantly to the morbidity of cancer and chronic infectious diseases such as AIDS. The condition also compromises the health of the elderly, who lose muscle mass by the same process. Two papers recently reviewed by the Faculty of 1000 have added to the understanding of cachexia by approaching the subject from entirely different angles.1,2 According to David Sassoon, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, the field now is "moving quickly towards understanding the devastating collateral effect of infection and cancer."

Many cachexia researchers focus on the preferential loss of...

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