ABC World News: Weight Loss Surgery May Cure Diabetes, Immediately!

There may be a cure for obesity and diabetesMar 26, 2012 – ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reported that two studies released by the New England Journal of Medicine show that bariatric surgery may cure type 2 diabetes. The study reported that patients that undergo weight loss surgery can be off insulin sometimes as soon as 72 hours after the operation. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health Medical Editor says that this is good news for patients who worry about the possible consequences of long-term type 2 diabetes such as blindness, amputation, and kidney failure. That seems to be inline with a previous report by ABC’s Good Morning America in April 2011 when the International Diabetes Federation recommended for the first time bariatric surgery as a treatment for diabetes for obese patients.

In that report Dr. Besser introduced us to Katie Wylie who had the operation 3 years ago, but before the operation she had suffered complications from diabetes for 16 years. She was worried that she was going to die early and would not see her son grow up. She enrolled in a clinical trial using gastric bypass surgery to treat diabetes and lost 75 pounds, going from 198 to 123 pounds! The dramatic benefit of the weight loss was that her diabetes not just treated, it was eliminated! As she told Dr Besser “I was declared diabetes free”.

For about a hundred years since the discovery of insulin, diabetes has been treated the same way, with pills and insulin shots. So how does this work?

Dr. Besser explained that gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach and the intestine is shortened so you absorb fewer calories. Doctors believe that the operation causes the hormones called incretins to go to work, normalizing blood sugar levels, even before the weight is off.

Dr. Besser spoke with Dr. Paul Schauer, Director Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic. Dr Shauer said patients might come off insulin sometimes within hours after surgery and they all are off of insulin before they leave the hospital.

For Katie the effects have been life-changing. When asked to describe herself in three words, she says “healthy, healthy, healthy”.

in the April 2011 report Robin Roberts bought up the fact that the operation can cost $20-$30000 and that Katie was fortunate because her insurance covered it. But some insurance companies may not cover the operation.

Today, Diane Sawyer wanted to know if America’s 23 million diabetics should go out tomorrow and ask their doctors to get the surgery?

Dr. Besser advises if you have had diabetes for several years and you have tried diet, exercise and medications and you are not seeing progress, then you should have that conversation with your doctor. But he says surgery has side effects and before he would recommend surgery broadly, he would like to see larger and longer studies to see the long-term side effects and to see how long do the benefits of the surgery really last. But the results of the New England Journal of Medicine study is very promising.

 

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