Weight Loss Surgery Saves Lives
Research Shows Fewer Deaths From Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Cancer
WebMD News Archive
Death Rates From Causes Other Than Disease continued...
Patients who had weight loss surgery had death rates from nondisease causes
that were 58% greater than people who did not have surgery.
The study offered few clues about the reason for this. But several previous
studies have suggested a link between weight loss surgery and an increase in
drug and alcohol abuse and other risk-taking behaviors.
Adams says the findings highlight the need for better ways to identify
psychological "red flags" in patients who are considering weight loss
surgery and for assessing mental status after surgery.
Weight Loss Surgery vs. Dieting
The second study involved just over 4,000 severely obese patients, half of
whom were treated with weight loss surgery and the other half with either no
treatment or nonsurgical weight loss interventions like dieting.
Ten years later, weight loss among the surgery patients averaged 14% to 25%,
compared with less than 2% among the nonsurgery patients.
During the follow-up, 129 deaths occurred among nonsurgery patients,
compared with 101 deaths among the surgery group. The number of heart
attack deaths were lower in the surgery group (13 vs. 25), as were cancer
deaths (29 vs. 47).
Researcher Claude Bouchard, PhD, of Louisiana State University's Pennington
Biomedical Research Center, tells WebMD that the two studies prove that weight
loss surgery is a lifesaving option for severely obese patients.
Consensus Conference Needed
Bray agrees that weight loss surgery may prove to be a more important weapon
in the battle against obesity and obesity-related disease than any previous
But he says the benefits and risks of modern approaches to weight loss
surgery must be examined before the indications for the surgery are
He is calling for a national conference to address the matter. The last such
conference was held in 1991.
"A lot has happened since then, he says. "Laparoscopic surgery
has all but replaced the open surgery -- and surgical mortality rates have
declined as a result. But there are unanswered questions about which patients
will benefit most from this surgery."