Two New Studies Find Surgery Tops Medicine for Diabetes
In case you missed it, these headlines were in the news recently:
- New York Times: “Surgery may be best option for Type 2 diabetics“
- Washington Post: “Stomach surgery more effective than medicine for diabetes, studies find“
- examiner.com: “Studies show weight-loss surgery effective against diabetes“
The findings come as no surprise to the team of surgeons at the New York Bariatric Group, who has received many positive reports from their patients following bariatric surgeries.
A study by Australian physicians in 2008 found similar results when comparing bariatric weight-loss surgery with other forms of treatment.
However, the new studies are being called the first to rigorously compare medical treatment with surgery as a way to control diabetes.
“Diabetes is typically a progressive disease, but weight-loss surgery really does represent a realistic hope for a cure,” said Dr. Shawn Garber of the New York Bariatric Group. Dr. Garber has performed more than 2,500 laproscopic gastric bypass procedures, 2,000 lap band surgeries and 300 sleeve gastrectomies.
The two new studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
One of the studies was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Chicago last month by a research team from the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard University. This study involved 50 patients who had a sleeve gastrectomy, 50 who underwent a Roux-en Y gastric bypass and 50 who received a treatment of medication, monitoring, diet and exercise.
The results: Diabetes remission rates one year after surgery were lower by 42 percent and 37 percent, while only 12 percent of the patients who did not have the surgery experienced remission.
The researchers said the surgeries help control diabetes not just because they help people lose weight, but the changes in anatomy also alter the levels of hormones that affect the metabolism of sugars and fats.
The other study was conducted by the Catholic University of Rome. It compared remission rates two years after surgery. In this study, for the two types of surgery, complete remission rates were 75 percent and 95 percent, while there were no complete remissions in patients receiving the medical treatment.
In both studies, the patients undergoing surgery also were more successful with sustaining their weight loss.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to strokes, heart disease, blindness, foot amputation, kidney failure and other issues that can reduce life expectancy. It is estimated that 20 million people in the United States have it, and the number is growing rapidly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of patients with diabetes in the United States has tripled in the last 30 years.
An editorial accompanying the two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine called Type 2 diabetes “one of the fastest growing epidemics in human history,” adding that while surgical weight-loss procedures were “not yet” a panacea for diabetes, the new research “suggests they should not be seen as a last resort.”
The American Diabetes Association and the National Institutes for Health list surgery as an option for obese patients seeking a cure for diabetes.
If you’re seriously considering weight-loss surgery, we invite you to make an appointment to see one of our surgeons by calling our office at (516) 616-5500 or, if you prefer, click on “Live Chat” in the upper left corner of your screen to have a conversation now.