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Study shows more than half of high-risk alcohol users report improvement after surgery
Date:4/3/2014

BOSTON Much has been reported about the potential for increased risk of alcohol misuse after weight loss surgery (WLS), with most theories pointing to lower alcohol tolerance and a longer time to return to a sober state after surgery, but a new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that upwards of half of high-risk drinkers are actually less likely to report high-risk drinking behavior after weight loss surgery.

The results appear in the journal, Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

"This is the first study to show that high-risk drinking may actually improve post weight loss surgery," says lead author and principal investigator Christina Wee, MD, Director of Obesity Research in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care.

Wee and colleagues interviewed patients who participated in the Assessment of Bariatric Surgery or ABS Study, which aims to understand patient preferences and decision making processes about weight loss and weight loss surgery. They followed 541 clinically obese patients who underwent weight loss surgery, interviewing them at baseline and then twice again at the end of one and two years.

Study participants were asked questions assessing frequency of drinking over the past year, quantity of alcohol consumed on an average daily, and binge drinking over the past month. Results were used to determine which individuals were high-risk drinkers.

"Given the greater clinical attention being paid to caloric intake and substance abuse issues after WLS, we hypothesized that a subset of high-risk drinkers who undergo WLS may actually experience amelioration of their high-risk drinking," write the authors.

It turns out they were right.

"So much of the existing literature focuses on increased risk", says senior author George Blackburn, MD, Director of the Center for Nutrition Medicine. "Even though we expected to see something different with this data
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Contact: Kelly Lawman
klawman@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7305
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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