March 27, 2012 by staff
Diabetes Surgery, For some people with diabetes, surgery may be the best medicine. Two studies have found that weight-loss operations worked much better than the standard therapies for Type 2 diabetes in obese and overweight people whose blood sugar was out of control. Those who had surgery, which stapled the stomach and rerouted the small intestine, were much more likely to have a complete remission of diabetes, or to need less medicine, than people who were given the typical regimen of drugs, diet and exercise.
The surgery also helped many to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol.
The new studies, published Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, are the first to rigorously compare medical treatment with these particular stomach and intestinal operations as ways to control diabetes.
Doctors had been noticing for years that weight-loss operations, also called bariatric surgery, could sometimes get rid of Type 2 diabetes. But they had no hard data.
Experts say better treatments are desperately needed for the disease. The question is whether major surgery, with its risks and complications, should be more widely used. Some surgeons and obesity experts are pushing to establish a role for the surgeries in treating diabetes, not just obesity, while other experts say more research is needed.
The president for medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association, Dr. Vivian Fonseca, said the two studies were “not game changers” because they were relatively small.
The disease, which causes high blood sugar, is linked to obesity and often becomes harder to manage as it progresses. It can bring devastating complications like heart disease, strokes, blindness, amputations and kidney failure.
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