May 26, 2015

More Evidence that Gastric Bypass is NOT a Cure for Diabetes

There is so much money in selling gastric bypass that it is no surprise that surgeons have talked a lot of family doctors into believing that this risky operation will cure their patients of Type 2 diabetes. Now yet another study documents exactly how this is not true and what the real risks of the procedure are for people with diabetes.

 The study is reported here: Gastric bypass helps treat diabetes, but has risks. The actual study is found here: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for diabetes (the Diabetes Surgery Study): 2-year outcomes of a 5-year, randomised, controlled trial

The meat of the report is in this statement: "'Some doctors had thought that gastric bypass could cure diabetes, but that did not happen for most of our patients,' said coauthor Dr. Charles J. Billington. 'Also unexpected was the extent of complications in the bypass patients,' said Billington, of the endocrinology and diabetes division at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis."

Two years after the surgery, 75% of the people who had the surgery achieved A1cs below 7% (though exactly how much lower is not disclosed.) The serious side effects included severe infections and nutritional deficiency bad enough to produce fractured bones.

Note that this study only reported the results at 2 years after the surgery. The study is meant to last 5 years. By then, if their results are similar to others I've reported on in previous blog posts, most of the subjects with diabetes will have seen their blood sugars revert to diabetic levels. Some previous studies are reported here:
No, WLS Does NOT Cure Diabetes--Study By Doctor with Conflict of Interest


The REAL Truth about Gastric Bypass's Supposed "Cure" of Type 2 Diabetes

Contrary to what surgeons suggest, there is no permanent physiological change caused this surgery that heals diabetes. All it does is make it so that people can't eat very much carbohydrate at one time. As we know, the less carb you eat, the lower your blood sugar. By forcing people to eat less carb, the surgery will lower blood sugar.

But over time the stomach stretches out and people who have had this surgery but were not told the connection between carbohydrate intake and blood sugar levels will eat more carb and become diabetic again. But this time they will be diabetic with severe nutritional deficiencies, since this surgery prevents the normal absorption of important minerals and nutrients.

When assessing any claim for surgery, be aware that unlike drugs which must go through a lengthy process of clinical trials and FDA approval before they may be sold surgeries can be performed by any physician, with the only limiting factor being whether or not insurers will pay for them. Even when insurers won't pay for them, sleazy doctors can still do surgeries on patients willing to pay the bills themselves.

In this loosely regulated system, there is no control over what surgeons can claim about their surgeries and as we can see here, it takes many years until any studies are done to determine if any of the surgeons' claims are true.

There is no question that weight loss surgery does reduce weight, but if you are considering this risky surgery mainly to cure your diabetes, try cutting back on your carbs for six months first. How well you do with that approach will give you a very good idea of how well you'll do with the surgery--during the first year or two when you can't eat much carbohydrate even if you want to.

You can learn how to lower your blood sugar to normal levels with diet HERE.


Scott S said...

This is a validation of what basic common sense tells us to be true: radical surgery has its own risks and won't necessarily fix issues related to the metabolic syndrome in all cases. Yet in every city across America, I hear expensive TV ads claiming it cures obesity for life among other things and wonder if this is really something that should be promoted on TV as if it were a soft drink or something?

This type of surgery can be transformative (in a good way) for some people, but I worry people aren't considering all aspects. I know of a woman who was obese and did this surgery, but she almost died as a result. Surgeons should be board-certified and anyone considering it should consider who's doing it very closely.