Researchers say something about gastric bypass surgery changes the body’s metabolism that quickly improves Type 2 diabetes. But, before you call a surgeon, no one is going to be performing the surgery to treat diabetes anytime soon.

As written in reports by Reuters and WebMD, a small study by researchers at Columbia University in New York and Duke University in North Carolina compared the effects of surgery on 10 obese patients with 11 others who lost as much weight without the surgery. Both groups lost about 20 pounds.

What they found was that the surgery group had dramatic improvements in their diabetes.  Study co-author Dr. Blandine LaFerrere of Columbia characterized them as “remission.” She told WebMD that one month after the surgery all of the surgery patients no longer required diabetes medications. About half of the dieters remained on drugs even after losing the 20 pounds. The study was published online today ahead of print publication in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

To find out why the surgery had this effect when the dieting didn’t, they analyzed blood samples taken from both groups. What they found was significantly lower levels of several types of amino acids associated with insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease in the blood of the surgery group compared to the dieters.

The discovery, if confirmed in larger studies, offers researcher some attractive new treatment strategies for Type 2 diabetes that might lead to treatments that are as effective as the surgery.

The type of surgery used in the study is called bariatric surgery, in which the surgeon physically reduces the size of the stomach. This is different than the Lap-Band® surgery that restricts the stomach size with an adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach. Still why the surgery has this effect on the amino acid levels in the blood remains a mystery. Whether the Lap-Band surgery would have the same effect is also unknown.

written by Michael O'Leary