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Gastric bypass surgery may not prevent diabetes in the long term

Published on November 12, 2016 at 14:44 / Updated on April 5, 2021 at 18:25

The number of Canadians living with type 2 diabetes is constantly increasing. Risk factors that can lead to its development include a sedentary lifestyle, a diet overly rich in calories, and being overweight. The more a person is overweight, the more insulin must be produced for cells to be able to absorb the sugar they need. As a result, the cells that produce insulin get overworked and have trouble producing the amount of insulin required. Persons with type 2 diabetes are therefore encouraged to lose weight, exercise and eat a healthier diet, because in some cases achieving a healthy weight is enough to eliminate the disease.

In the past few years, gastric bypass surgery has been viewed as an increasingly appealing treatment for type 2 diabetes. Earlier this year, two widely publicized studies reported that surgery was more effective than drugs, dietary changes and exercise in inducing a remission of Type 2 diabetes in overweight individuals. However, the studies had few participants and lasted under two years.

A new study now reports that this type of surgery is not as effective as originally thought. The study found that many Type 2 diabetics who undergo gastric bypass surgery do not experience a remission of their disease, and of those who do, about a third show signs of their diabetes returning within five years of their operation.

This latest study tracked thousands of diabetics who had gastric bypass surgery for more than a decade. After the surgery, about 68 percent of patients experienced a complete remission of their diabetes. But within five years, 35 percent of them had a relapse. The researchers identified three factors that predicted a relapse of diabetes, namely having had type 2 diabetes for a long time, having had poor blood sugar control prior to surgery, and taking insulin to treat the disease. 

In conclusion, gastric bypass surgery does not guarantee a remission of type 2 diabetes in every case. The procedure is more likely to benefit individuals whose diabetes is not very advanced and is well controlled prior to surgery.

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