June 19, 2012

Bariatric Surgery Causing Alcoholism?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Severe obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. About 18 million people in the United States suffer from it. A recent study shows that Bariatric Surgery, the common answer of doctors today for severe obesity, is leading some to alcohol abuse.

There are approximately 79,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are breaking ground on a new theory that says that patients that receive Bariatric Surgery could be increasing their risk for alcohol use disorders.

"As the prevalence of severe obesity increases in the United States, it is becoming increasingly common for health care providers and their patients to consider bariatric surgery, which is the most effective and durable treatment for severe obesity. Although bariatric surgery may reduce long-term mortality, and it carries a low risk of short-term serious adverse outcomes. Anecdotal reports suggest that bariatric surgery may increase the risk for alcohol use disorders (AUD; i.e., alcohol abuse and dependence)," Wendy C. King, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh was quoted saying.

The prospective study included 2,458 adults who underwent bariatric surgery at 10 U.S. hospitals. Of these participants, 1,945 completed preoperative and postoperative assessments between 2006 and 2011. The primary outcome measure for the study was determined with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). This test is an indication of alcohol-related harm, or alcohol dependence symptoms.

The researchers found that the prevalence of AUD symptoms did not significantly differ from 1 year before to 1 year after bariatric surgery, but was significantly higher in the second postoperative year. Frequency of alcohol consumption and AUD significantly increased in the second postoperative year compared with the year prior to surgery or the first postoperative year.

"More than half of those reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment continued to have or had recurrent AUD within the first 2 postoperative years," the authors write. "In contrast, 7.9 percent of participants not reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment had postoperative AUD. Nonetheless, more than half of postoperative AUD was reported by those not reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment."

The authors note that although the 2 percent increase in prevalence of AUD from prior surgery to the 2-year postoperative assessment may seem small, the increase potentially represents more than 2,000 additional people with AUD in the United States each year, with accompanying personal, financial, and societal costs.

When considering this or any other type of surgery, always make sure you check out the possible post-op effects before going ahead. It could end up causing you more harm than help in the end.

Source: Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and Duke Medicine, June 2012