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Studies Confirm that Weight-Loss Surgery can Reverse Diabetes

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Researchers have determined that type 2 diabetes may be reversed or even cured by weight-loss surgery.

Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared the results of stomach-reducing surgery to the effects of medication taken to control type 2 diabetes. Both studies clearly indicated that the surgery was more effective than the medications alone.

Cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors also improved following the surgical procedure.

Researchers believe that the surgery itself helped reverse type 2 diabetes in those patients who underwent the weight-loss operation. This is because food intake causes the gut to produce hormones to stimulate insulin. By surgically removing part of the gut, the hormone production is reduced.

A previous study had examined the impact of stomach banding (a less drastic and reversible procedure) on type 2 diabetes. For those patients who underwent the procedure and who had mild diabetes, the technique was effective at lowering blood sugar.

However, the latest two studies examine patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery and who had suffered from severe type 2 diabetes for many years. Doctors had treated these patients with medication and insulin, and encouraged weight loss and exercise; but only limited success was achieved.

In both instances, patients were divided into 2 groups, and underwent one of two possible weight-loss surgical procedures. In the first study, 42 and 37 percent of patients were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels without any medication one year after their weight-loss surgery. In the second study, 95 and 75 percent of patients were able to achieve and maintain healthy blood sugar levels without medication after a two year period.

It is hoped that weight-loss surgery will offer new hope for a permanent treatment for type 2 diabetes. The researchers would like to see the surgery offered as an effective option for treating obese people who suffer from diabetes, rather than a “last resort” weight-loss procedure.

Source: CBS News