But those under 35, and especially women, may not reap as much benefit
By Randy Dotinga
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged and even older people seem to gain a survival boost from gastric bypass surgery -- good news for obese older folks who may wonder if the weight-loss surgery is worth the risk, a new study suggests.
However, the news is not the same for those under 35. The study found no survival benefit for this group, and saw an increase in the number of "externally caused deaths," which included accidental injuries, assaults and suicides. The increase was more significant in women than in men, the researchers said.
"Younger patients, especially females, should be counseled on the risk of suicide and accidental death following bariatric surgery," said Dr. Daniel Schauer, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who reviewed the study findings but was not involved with the research.
At least one doctor suggested that the suicide risk among severely obese younger women might owe to anxiety and depression, and the eventual realization that weight-loss surgery can't eliminate all their problems.
The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect link between weight-loss surgery and certain survival outcomes. It only showed an association.
The findings appear in the Feb. 10 issue of the journal JAMA Surgery.
The researchers wanted to explore which age groups might gain a survival benefit after undergoing the weight-loss surgery known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, particularly because there's not a lot of data on people older than 55. The answers might provide insight into whether older obese people could benefit from weight-loss surgery, which has been linked to improvements in a variety of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
One concern is that the risks of the procedure may outweigh the benefits for obese older people, said Dr. Malcolm Kenneth Robinson, an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who specializes in weight-loss procedures. Robinson also wasn't involved with the new research, but reviewed the findings.
Robinson also noted that seniors might not live long enough to enjoy the benefits of better health.