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While risky - obesity surgery can stop diabetes better than drugs

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The procedure does have its share of risks - including death - but it's been found that obesity surgery is far more successful in reducing and even reversing diabetes over medication and lifestyle changes. These are the results of a rigorous study where researchers and others caution that the possible serious complications of the process need to be considered.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The most common weight-loss surgery, gastric bypass, can effectively treat diabetes in patients with mild to moderate obesity, which is 50 to 70 pounds overweight. The researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association caution, however, that other studies have proved the operation can reverse diabetes in severely obese patients, although sometimes the disease comes back.

A third of the 60 adults who got bypass surgery in the new study developed serious problems within a year of the operation. It must be noted that some cases were not clearly linked with the surgery.

But for the most serious complications - infections, intestinal blockages and bleeding - the rate was six percent, slightly higher than in earlier research.

The most dangerous complication occurred in one patient when stomach contents leaked from the surgery site, leading to an overwhelming infection, leg amputation and brain injury.

However, lead author Dr. Sayeed Ikramuddin, an obesity surgeon at the University of Minnesota, dismissed that disastrous incident "a fluke."

Complications that devastating are rare, but "the frequency and severity of complications . is problematic." The study concluded that the best way to treat patients with both obesity and diabetes "remains unknown."

A research review in the journal said more long-term evidence on risks and benefits is needed to determine if obesity surgery is an appropriate way to treat diabetes in patients who aren't severely obese - at least 100 pounds overweight.

Of the 20 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes; most are overweight or obese. Diabetics face increased risks for heart disease and strokes. Poorly controlled diabetes can damage the kidneys, eyes and blood vessels.

About 160,000 people nationwide undergo various types of obesity surgery each year. Bypass surgery involves stapling the stomach to create a small pouch and attaching it to a lower part of the intestines.

The American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery assures that obesity surgery is safe and that the death rate is less than one percent.

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