Bariatric surgery reverses type 2 diabetes

Research on the use of bariatric surgery to treat type 2 diabetes received extensive coverage in both print and online media, as well as more than seven minutes of coverage on most national news broadcasts.

ABC World News reported that “two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show there’s hope for a cure” for diabetes.

The CBS Evening News reported that Dr. Steven Nissen, an author of one of the studies, “was amazed by the results. In fact, many of the patients were taken off their diabetes medicine.”

On NBC Nightly News, NBC Chief Science Correspondent, Robert Bazell said that while physicians “and scientists do not know why the weight lost surgery can have such dramatic effects,” they “suspect that the procedure itself causes massive hormonal changes.”

The AP reports, “The two studies … are the first to compare stomach-reducing operations to medicines alone for ‘diabesity’ – Type 2 diabetes brought on by obesity.”

In a front-page story, the New York Times reports, “Neither study involved the Lap Band, an implanted loop that cinches the stomach into a small pouch and that does not involve cutting the stomach or intestines.”

USA Today) reports, “In the study of 150 patients with Type 2 diabetes, 42% of those randomly assigned to the stomach-reducing surgery saw their blood sugar drop to normal levels, according to research presented in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.”

Some of the study participants “who had the operations, called bariatric surgery, improved so rapidly that they went off their diabetes medications before leaving the hospital, says lead investigator Philip Schauer, a professor of surgery and director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.”

Bloomberg News reports, however, that “one in three patients studied in the Cleveland Clinic research wouldn’t have been big enough to qualify for obesity surgery under current US guidelines.”

The Washington Post  reports that the other ” study, conducted in Italy, achieved even better results.”

Researchers found that “gastric bypass surgery put 75 percent of patients into full remission from diabetes, while a more extreme type of surgery that bypasses more of the intestines, biliopancreatic diversion, led to a 95 percent remission rate.”

The Los Angeles Times reports, “In an accompanying editorial in the journal, diabetes specialists Paul Zimmet and K. George M.M. Alberti wrote that although surgical weight-loss procedures were ‘not yet’ a panacea for the worldwide epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, the new research ‘suggests they should not be seen as a last resort.'”

The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that some physicians advise caution, as more research is necessary.

Also covering the story are Reuters, the NPR “Shots” blog, Forbes, WebMD, HeartWire, MedPage Today, and HealthDay.

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