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Gastric Bypass Reduces Diabetes but Causes Other Complications, Study Says
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6 Jun 2013 09:45 AM EST

-by Vania Andre, Staff Writer; Image: Graphic of a gastric bypass using a Roux-en-Y anastomosis (Image Source: Ethicon Endosurgery, Inc. / Topnife / Wikimedia Commons)

Weight-loss surgery reduces and even reverses diabetes more effectively than medication and lifestyle changes, according to a new study.

The researchers found that gastric bypass can treat diabetes in patients that are moderately obese. The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

However, the researchers warn there are other complications that should be considered after undergoing gastric bypass.  Complications include infections, intestinal blockages and bleeding.

“About a third of the 60 adults who got bypass surgery in the new study developed serious problems within a year of the operation, though some cases were not clearly linked with the surgery,” according to the study. “That rate is similar to what's been seen in previous studies.”

There were 120 participants in the study from five hospitals in New York, Minnesota and Taiwan. The participants were all on medication for diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and/or high blood pressure.

“The diabetes changes were likely due to the weight loss but that hormonal changes affecting blood sugar may have contributed,” according to the researchers.

Devastating complications are rare, but “the frequency and severity of complications... is problematic,” Lead author Dr. Sayeed Ikramuddin, an obesity surgeon at the University of Minnesota said. The best way to treat obese patients with diabetes “remains unknown.”

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