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Obesity surgery can cure diabetes, high blood pressure
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Obesity surgery helps patients do more than shed weight -- it often cures their diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, researchers say.

The research -- an analysis of 136 studies -- found that such operations are more than cosmetic. They appear to alter the patient's body chemistry and eliminate or relieve conditions that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

The analysis was funded by a Johnson & Johnson Co. subsidiary that develops and markets surgical instruments, including staplers for obesity surgery. But the results echo what many doctors have reported seeing.

Diabetes was eliminated in nearly 77 percent of the affected patients; high blood pressure was eliminated in nearly 62 percent; cholesterol improved in at least 70 percent; and obstructive sleep apnea -- episodes when breathing stops during sleep -- disappeared in almost 86 percent.

The study appears in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

University of Minnesota surgeon Dr. Henry Buchwald, the study's lead author and a consultant to the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, said there is evidence that when the intestinal tract is rearranged in obesity surgery, patients who were diabetic are ''cured'' even before shedding significant amounts of weight.

Obesity surgery is a major operation, not cosmetic tinkering, Buchwald emphasized. The risks include malnutrition, stomach problems, infections and, in rare cases, death.


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