Weight-Loss Surgery Increases Alcohol Deaths

Weight-loss surgery has it pros and cons, but drug and alcohol deaths can increase, according to a new study.

Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery Photo by 123rf

To begin with, people who have a gastric bypass procedure done are three times more likely to die of drug or alcohol related death than the general population, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.

Although the reason is not transparent, studies have shown that this procedure changes the way the body reacts to alcohol and drugs, however.

The Effect is Physiological

“The effect is purely physiological, not psychological,” said Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Yale School of Medicine. “Gastric bypass surgery removes 95% of the stomach. Alcohol receptors exist in the stomach and the liver, so by removing so much of the stomach, people lose the first pass at metabolizing alcohol.”

During this study, 2,500 patients who had weight-loss surgery was follow for seven years. Eighty percent were women and 86% were also white. Ten of the patients died from alcohol or drug abuse during that time. All 10 had gastric bypass surgery, which shortens the intestine and reduces the stomach.

Smaller Stomach Means Weight Loss

However, having a smaller stomach make you feel fuller faster, thus helps you lose weight.

Researchers used a formula called “person years” to compare patient death rates with those in general population. There were about 90 deaths per 100,000 person years compared to 30 per 100,000 in the general population.

Furthermore, I can understand how any weight-loss surgery such as gastric bypass makes substance abuse dangerous. It is because most of the stomach is removed. The stomach helps to absorb such substances like drugs or alcohol so this can cause serious health damage.

Patients Should Be Aware of Weight-Loss Surgery

Finally, doctors should make patients aware of these findings because it would help them make the best decisions when it comes to weight-loss surgery.

Source: Wendy King, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh; John Morton, M.D., vice chair for quality, department of surgery, and division chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; June 7, 2019,Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, online

Leeman Taylor
B.S. Criminal Justice
Real Estate Investor