Study: Weight loss surgery can cure diabetes

2008-01-23 00:12:06 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhuanet)-- A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that obesity surgery can cure diabetes, according to U.S. media reports Tuesday.

In the study, Australian researchers found that patients who had surgery to reduce the size of their stomachs were five times more likely to see their diabetes disappear over the next two years, compared with patients who had standard diabetes care.

"It's the best therapy for diabetes that we have today, and it's very low risk," said the study's lead author, Dr. John Dixon of Monash University Medical School in Melbourne, Australia.

Dixon and colleagues studied 60 obese people with a body mass index greater than 30 but less than 40. Body mass index or BMI is a ratio of height and weight. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

All the patients were obese and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the past two years. Their average age was 47.

Half of the patients were given gastric band surgery, and the other group had the normal weight-loss treatments; through the study, the team wanted to see if surgically induced weight loss could be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Seventy-three percent of patients given gastric band surgery found their diabetes was in remission two years after the surgery.

For those given normal weight-loss treatments, only 13 percent were able to send the disease into remission.

In addition, those given gastric band surgery lost 20.7 percent of their weight after two years compared with less than 1.7 percent for those given normal weight-loss therapies.

"An important finding of this study is that degree of weight loss, not the method, appears to be the major driver of glycaemic improvement and diabetes in remission in obese participants," Dixon said.

"This has important implications, as it suggests that intensive weight-loss therapy may be a more effective first step in the management of diabetes than simple lifestyle change, " He added.

But Dixon pointed out that "caution is required in interpreting the longer-term benefits of surgery and weight loss."