On Monday, the findings of a groundbreaking study were revealed that suggest diabetes sufferers might have a cure in weight-loss surgery. One cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Robert Siegel, has called the results “quite remarkable” and unexpected. The study finds that sufferers of diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, might actually be able to reverse the effects of the disease by turning to gastric bypass surgery.
The study’s results, which were made known by the American College of Cardiology and published by the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 150 test patients. Among those who received gastric bypass surgery, blood-sugar levels were higher on average, with 20 to 33 percent experiencing normal levels as opposed to only 5 percent among those who had not undergone surgery.
Even more significantly, researchers found that “more than 90 percent of the surgical patients required no insulin” after the three-year duration of the study, and close to half of those had formerly been relying on the medication when the study had begun. Among the test group of individuals who were simply taking medication, insulin use grew, rising from 52 to 55 percent of the subjects over the same period of time. Such results could prove to be tremendously good news for diabetes sufferers. For the 26 million Americans who currently have diabetes mellitus, the idea that such a condition may be completely reversible with the use of surgery is a remarkable finding in the study.
Heather Britton, one of the participants, had long been taking various drugs for her diabetes, as well as medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol. After undergoing a gastric bypass surgery procedure, her conditions are reported to have completely reversed. Britton, who experts are now citing as just one example of a cured diabetic, has called her own turnaround “a miracle.”
Another longtime sufferer of type 2 diabetes, Laura-Beth Shoup, has recently found herself diabetes-free after undergoing gastric bypass surgery of her own. Having formerly weighed 361 pounds, she now weighs around 161 after the procedure. She reports precisely the same results as Britton. While Shoup did not take part in the study, her marked improvement serves as another example of the potential benefits of surgery on diabetic conditions. Shoup talks about her newfound energy and remarkably healthy condition as vital parts in finally “getting my life back.”
The main reason that doctors have still been careful to call gastric bypass a “cure” for diabetes is because of not knowing whether the disease could still return after these apparent reversals. Dr. Robert Ratner of the American Diabetes Association, for example, has expressed that he is “very encouraged” about the number of willing participants in such a long-term study. But Ratner also believes that further study needs to be carried out over an even greater amount of time. Doing so will be one way of ensuring that the results are as accurate and compelling as possible.
Currently, more than 8% of Americans suffer from diabetes. Around two-thirds of those are overweight, so there is little question that a considerable number of those with the condition could benefit greatly if the new study’s findings are further confirmed. Diabetes is one of the primary causes of stroke, kidney problems, heart disease, and a number of other conditions. If diabetes mellitus is indeed a reversible condition when surgery is employed, as this study suggests, the discovery would mark a significant turning point in combating the disease.
By Chris Bacavis