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Weight Loss Surgery and the Case of the Disappearing Diabetes

It seemed to be a drastic step to take for Mary Writesel who had been clinically obese for almost 20 years, but when she was also diagnosed as diabetic, she made the painful decision to resort to weight loss surgery.

The procedure was a success, but there was an unexpected side effect that stunned Mary and the doctors alike.

Before she even left the hospital following her surgery in August 2009, Mary's blood sugar levels had dropped so much that she found that she no longer needed her diabetes medication, nor those for high cholesterol and blood pressure.

One year on, she has lost around 60 pounds, but to make things even better, she is also diagnosed as being free from diabetes.

There is Good News!

Now before you get too excited by this news, it's important to know that by no means does this happen to all weight-reduction surgery patients who are also diabetics, but it does happen with enough frequency for researchers to sit up and take note.

To help with a study that was being conducted by researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Writesel agreed to the donation of a fat sample that was removed during her weight loss surgery procedure. The study being conducted by the local medical school is one of many that explore why it is that diabetes sometimes disappears following surgery for weight reduction.

Initially, the phenomenon was believed to be down to the loss in body mass. However, some patients found themselves free of the condition before they lost a single pound and some even before they left the hospital.

A Look at the Research

Researchers working at the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center are studying different kinds of body fat to ascertain if certain traits are more or less likely to result in problems which include diabetes as well as heart problems. They are focusing on visceral fat, better known as belly fat, which surrounds the internal organs.

It is believed that people who eat a less than healthy diet have high levels of visceral fat tend to be apple-shaped and are believed to be at a higher risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, people who are pear-shaped tend to have less visceral fat but more subcutaneous fat, which is found under the skin and this tends to be found mainly in the areas of the hips, thighs and buttocks.

The main focus for researchers is an enzyme in fat known as lipoxygenase. This enzyme can cause inflammation that can damage blood vessels. If the studies are able to determine how this enzyme causes the inflammation to occur, it could lead to the creation of medical treatments that would correct it. Samples of both visceral fat and subcutaneous fat are being studied.

In June this year, the initial results were presented to a conference of the American Diabetes Association. They were deemed important enough that more funding may be forthcoming so the study can be expanded.


Posted on Mon, 09 Aug 2010 in News | 0 Comments

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