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Type 2 diabetes study yields surprising results

Sayeed Ikramuddin, M.D. (Photo: Scott Streble)

Which is better at controlling type 2 diabetes: gastric bypass surgery or lifestyle management?

That was the question University of Minnesota researchers Sayeed Ikramuddin, M.D., and David Bernlohr, Ph.D., aimed to answer when they began a study in 2011.

The researchers fully expected that this test would come out even — neither treatment winning over the other. But the results weren’t even close.

After one year, 19 percent of the lifestyle-management group had met the health standards, while 49 percent of the gastric bypass participants had reached the goal. Even more astonishing, the gastric-bypass participants’ diabetes was reversed in days, sometimes hours, postsurgery — long before they had actually lost weight.

Regardless of the surgery’s clear results, both researchers say gastric bypass surgery is not a likely long-term future treatment for diabetics, because better, nonsurgical options will emerge. “What we need to find are inroads — nonsurgical ways — to accomplish this result,” says Bernlohr, who is studying the biology of the participants’ fat tissue and why its inflammation is reversed by bypass surgery.

The study’s one-year data collection provided the early findings needed for publication in June. Now the scientists are collecting year-two data to determine how gastric bypass surgery affects mitochondrial function, or energy production, in fat tissue.

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