Gastric Bypass to Treat Type-2 Diabetes? The Controversial Approach
The CDC tells us an estimated 25.8 million Americans suffer from diabetes
. Worldwide, more than 171 million have type-2 diabetes and the number is expected to double by the year 2030. Scientists have known for some time that obesity plays a huge role in the disease
, but they have just recently come to understand the significance of treating obesity with a certain surgical technique.New study reveals that gastric bypass surgery may help in the fight against type-2 diabetes.
As much as 80% of type-2 diabetes cases go into remission after a patient undergoes the bypass procedure. In an effort to understand why, a U.S. research team conducted a study with eye-opening results. They compared 10 obese patients who had gastric bypass surgery with 11 obese people who lost weight through dieting alone. What they discovered is that the gastric bypass patients had much lower levels of special types of amino acids called branched-chain amino acids
and two other amino acids called phenylalanine and tyrosine
.The link between these amino acids and diabetes.
Dr. Blandine Laferrere, associate professor of medicine at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University, explains. "Something happens after gastric bypass that does not happen as much after the diet-induced weight loss. Those changes in the amino acids could be implicated in the mechanism of diabetes remission after gastric bypass.”Gastric bypass surgery
reduces the size of the stomach to that of a small pouch. It also changes the junction between the stomach and small intestine and somewhere in the process the level of circulating amino acids linked with diabetes is reduced as well. The fact that the diabetes improves almost immediately after surgery points to the fact that it's something other than weight loss that makes the diabetes disappear.
While the study confirms the hypotheses that branched-chain amino acids associated with insulin resistance decrease more with weight loss surgery, it doesn't prove cause and effect. In other words, it is yet to be proven that a reduction in these amino acids is what is actually responsible for the decline in insulin resistance.
Though the research looks promising, scientists are quick to point out that obese people with diabetes shouldn't jump to choosing surgery over dieting and lifestyle changes. Gastric bypass surgery is highly invasive and not everyone meets the qualifications for the procedure. Hopefully, scientists will come to understand more about how the surgery affects these amino acids and apply this new knowledge to developing better treatments for diabetes.