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Lee Michaels
November 6th 03, 01:27 PM
Wonder if this hormone neuropeptide-Y (or NPY) would help in pushing up the
iron?

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For nearly a century, armies have been trying to select recruits for jobs
they are best suited for. Oddly enough, the most difficult selection chore
is for combat troops. For a long time, selection was restricted to insuring
that the recruits were in good enough physical shape to march and fire their
weapons. This changed during World War II, when selection of superior
fighters became a life or death matter for commando type units. Thus was the
"stress test" developed.

Candidates, many of whom were already experienced infantrymen, were put in
situations where they were tired, had little sleep, and then given difficult
chores to accomplish in a short amount of time. Those who were best at this
were selected, and the selections proved accurate. Similar selection and
training methods continued after World War II. But now blood tests of these
elite warriors, compared to regular infantrymen, shows that it's all in the
blood.

More specifically, the elite warriors have highly elevated levels the
hormone neuropeptide-Y (or NPY). Not much is known about NPY, although it
appears to be a natural relaxant. Produced in the brain and intestine, NPY
is also involved with appetite control, heart function and the quality of
ones sleep. If you are one of those people who just naturally have a lot of
NPY, you tend to be cool under pressure and very capable of handling stress.
We all know people like this.

But if you want to be a successful commando, you really need NPY. This is
because even commandos generate large quantities of the stress hormone
cortisol when under pressure. Without NPY to handle the cortisol, you will
be just as stressed out and exhausted as a normal person. It's not normal to
have a lot of NPY. But a commando is more than some buff, aggressive guy
with a lot of NPY. While there appears to be a lot of blood and brain
chemistry issues going on here, there are also the more traditional items
like motivation and physical fitness. But these have always been easier to
measure. In the future, it looks like more blood tests will also be part of
the selection process.

Another spin off from this research will probably be an attempt to create
drugs that will give all soldiers the same advantages. Troops have been
taking ability enhancing drugs for nearly a century. Amphetamines have been
the most popular, as sheer fatigue has long been a major, and often fatal,
problem on the battlefield. But dealing with stress is nearly as big a
problem. An effective anti-stress pill would be welcomed on the battlefield,
for it would increase chances of survival in an often fatal occupation.

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