Surgery trumps diabetes treatment

Diabetes is the sort of condition drugmakers like to treat: It's a serious, chronic problem that requires daily meds for life. But what if a non-drug treatment could all but eliminate Type 2 diabetes in some patients?

That's just what a new study shows. In obese patients, weight-loss surgery works markedly better than conventional treatments did. Of 60 participants, 73 percent of those who had surgery saw their diabetes go into complete remission. Only 13 percent of those given counseling on diet and exercise, plus meds like insulin, metformin, and other drugs, experienced remission.

The big difference is accounted for by the fact that patients who had gastric-banding surgery lost much, much more weight than the other group did--in fact, the surgery patients shed 20.7 percent of their body weight on average, compared with 1.7 percent in the other group.

A caveat: The study probably doesn't apply to all diabetes patients, because participants had recently diagnosed and fairly mild cases of the disease. Nevertheless, the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the research, also ran an editorial calling surgical interventions perhaps as profound a change in diabetes treatment as the discovery of insulin.

- read the study abstract and an excerpt of the JAMA editorial
- here's an NYT report

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