Magazine article Science News

Bariatric Reversal: Stomach Surgery Curbs Some Patients' Diabetes

Magazine article Science News

Bariatric Reversal: Stomach Surgery Curbs Some Patients' Diabetes

Article excerpt

In obese people with diabetes, stomach surgery to control hunger may do more than induce weight loss. A study now finds it can send their diabetes into remission.

Australian researchers enlisted 60 obese people diagnosed in the previous 2 years with mild type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes. Only one study participant needed insulin. The researchers randomly assigned some participants to receive bariatric surgery along with any necessary diabetes drugs. Others got medication alone. Two years later, 22 of the 30 patients who underwent the operation showed no signs of diabetes and didn't need diabetes drugs, compared with only 4 of the 30 assigned to medication alone, the researchers report in the Jan. 23 Journal of the American Medical Association.

"This is a real landmark study," says surgeon Philip Schauer of the Cleveland Clinic. It's the first scientifically rigorous trial to show that surgery can treat type 2 diabetes, he says.

Patients getting surgery lost an average of 20 percent of their body weight, while those getting only medication lost less than 2 percent, says study coauthor John B. Dixon, a physician at Monash University in Melbourne. The dramatic weight loss led to better control of blood glucose levels, he says.

Many obese people aren't eligible for bariatric surgery, despite its solid record of inducing weight loss. In 1991, the National Institutes of Health established that anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more would qualify for bariatric surgery, as would those with a BMI of at least 35 if they also had a related health condition such as diabetes. …

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