AN UNEXPECTED SIDE EFFECT: While the procedure can help patients lose weight, it may also help reduce the incidence of diabetes. Studies have shown about 80 percent of diabetics go into complete remission following the operation. Some patients have seen results just days after the procedure, even before losing a significant amount of weight. Francesco Rubino, M.D., chief of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, N.Y., sought to find out the cause of this phenomenon. After performing bypass on diabetic rats, he discovered when the top of the small intestine is disconnected, the duodenum, diabetes disappears. When the duodenum is reattached, the disease returns. He concluded that preventing food from traveling through the duodenum can reverse diabetes, independent from weight loss. Clinical trials are currently taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil on diabetics who are not obese to find out if the procedure is safe and effective for those individuals. Currently, people with diabetes who are not obese cannot get bariatric surgery; only morbidly obese patients can. Morbidly obese people are typically 100 pounds overweight.
In addition to diabetes, bariatric surgery offers other health benefits to patients as well. Some experts estimate that roughly 100,000 people in the United States die every year from cancer due to their weight. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal found those who undergo bariatric surgery have about an 85 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer and a 70 percent reduction in the risk of colon cancer.
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Ellen Fiss, Public Relations Manager