Medical Moment: The health benefits of weight loss surgery

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - 41 percent of Americans are considered obese. And that puts them at increased risk for more than 60 chronic diseases.

New research shows weight loss surgery may not only help people lose weight, but decrease their risk of diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

“All I wanted from the time that I was a little girl, I mean probably as young as 5, 6, 7, I just wanted to be skinny,” Emily Peterson recalled. “I have just a lifetime of little horror stories.”

Emily Peterson tried basically every diet available, underwent a failed lap band surgery, and then, last year, had bariatric surgery.

“There’s a whole list of things that bariatric surgery makes better,” explained Philip Omotosho, a gastrointestinal surgeon at Rush University Medical Center.

Dr. Omotosho was a part of a team at Rush to study almost 29,000 morbidly obese patients. They found that gastric bypass surgery significantly reduced the risk of all cancers, including uterine, colorectal, and lung, some by more than 50 percent.

“The insulin resistance improves after bariatric surgery and we know that insulin resistance and growth factors have been actually implicated in some of these cancer pathways.” Dr. Omotosho said.

Another study done by Dr. Omotosho found bariatric surgery lowered the risk of ischemic stroke. And 52 percent of the gastric bypass patients had complete remission of their Type 2 diabetes. None of the patients who did not have surgery saw a remission of their diabetes.

Before bypass, Emily was told she was prediabetic. One year later, she had changed that trajectory and lost 105 lbs.

“I’m smaller now than I was in junior high school,” Emily said. “So, this is all completely uncharted territory. I’ve never been this size in my life, let alone as an adult.”

As of 2017, all 50 states have obesity rates over 20 percent. And as rates rise, you can expect healthcare costs to rise as well.

Showing that this is much more than jut a health crisis, it’s a budget crisis too.