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Weight-Loss Surgery May Cut Type 2 Diabetes Medication Use
Date:8/17/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Bariatric weight-loss surgery in obese people with type 2 diabetes can have an unexpected, yet positive side effect -- nearly 3 out of 4 patients in one study were able to stop taking their insulin and other diabetes medications within six months of surgery.

In a study of more than 2,200 U.S. adults, Johns Hopkins University researchers found that two years after the operation, almost 85 percent were off diabetes medications as a result of improved blood glucose levels.

And although the surgery is expensive, the researchers found that because of the reduction in type 2 diabetes medications and related health care costs, the surgery appeared to be a cost-effective option, reducing health care costs by more than $6,000 annually.

"We've got a new epidemic in the world replacing smoking -- it's obesity. And, the number one health consequence of obesity is type 2 diabetes. Now, we have an effective surgical intervention for two major health problems," said the study's lead author, Dr. Martin Makary, a surgeon and associate professor of surgery and of public health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

But, he cautioned, the surgery isn't a quick fix solution and it isn't for everyone. "This surgery is for the right candidates -- to qualify for bariatric surgery you have to have a body mass index greater than 30. And, it's something that needs to be considered when all other interventions have failed."

Results of the study were published in the August issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Diabetes can be a debilitating and expensive disease. A recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that the United States spends $83 billion each year on hospital costs related to diabetes. The same report estimates that nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes.

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