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For obese people battling type 2 diabetes, weight-loss surgery works much better than the conventional medical treatment of diet, exercise and drugs, a controversial new study claims.

After studying just 60 patients, researchers concluded that an amazing 73 percent of those who had the “gastric banding” surgery enjoyed complete remissions of their diabetes! The remission rate was a paltry 13 percent for those given conventional treatment, which included intensive counseling on diet and exercise for weight loss and diabetes medicines like insulin and metformin.

The main reason surgery works so well: the patients treated with surgery lost a lot of weight. Type 2 diabetes is usually brought on by obesity. The side-effects are less severe or non-existent for those who lose 10 percent of their body weight or more.

Before you throw away your blood test kits and syringes, and schedule surgery, know this: the new results probably do not apply to all patients with Type 2 diabetes. Those studied had fairly mild cases with a recent onset of the disease.

The disease may no longer be reversible " no matter how much weight is lost " for those who have more severe and longstanding diabetes.

The New York Times article that first broke the story notes, “The new thrust is in some sense a measure of desperation, as the United States and the world face increasing rates of the disease and its devastating complications, which can include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. To many doctors, the time is ripe for studying surgery as a potential cure for diabetes, and also as way to understand the disease better and develop better drugs to treat it.”

Remission of Type 2 diabetes after weight-loss surgery is not a new finding. But the new research is the first effort to find out scientifically how it measures up against medical treatment in similar groups of patients with the disease.

According to the New York Times, “About 19 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, and another 54 million are ‘prediabetic,’ meaning they have abnormalities in their blood sugar that increase their risk for the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is the fifth-leading cause of death by disease in this country, killing about 73,000 people a year. The number of cases in the United States is growing by about 8 percent a year, according to the association. Though treatable, the disease is not curable, and it is often poorly controlled.”

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