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More Than Cosmetic, Gastric Bypass Surgery Saves Lives

Gastric bypass is a controversial surgery. Star Jones kept her surgery secret, revealing it only recently.


Regardless of how you feel about the procedure a new study indicates that it is saving lives. Research published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine found severely obese patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery significantly reduced their risk of death from coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This study corroborates evidence from a similar Swedish study.

Both studies found that obese people who underwent drastic surgery had a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk of dying seven to 10 years later compared with those who did not have such operations. Evidence like this dispels the notion that gastric bypass is a "vanity" procedure since it can be seen as saving lives.

Surprisingly, the surgery group had a higher risk of death from accidents, suicides and other causes not related to disease. Although this puzzles researchers a bit, they believe this outcome might be due to unrecognized pre-surgical mood disorders or post-traumatic stress disorders, which appear to be more common in severely obese patients.

Current guidelines, in the U.S. recommend that gastric bypass surgery be considered only after traditional weight loss methods have failed. Candidates considering the operation must be at least 100 pounds overweight with a BMI over 40, or have a BMI over 35 in conjunction with an obesity-related medical condition such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

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