Weight-Loss Surgery Linked To Higher Risk Of Abusing Alcohol

Tue, 06/19/2012 - 5:33am
Brian Alexander

In a last ditch effort to lose weight, roughly 113,000 people subject themselves to bariatric surgeries such as stomach banding and gastric bypass every year in the United States. But some of those patients may be trading pounds for an alcohol problem, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in San Diego, and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hints that bariatric operations could lead to subsequent alcohol abuse have been collecting over the past few years, as case reports and doctor anecdotes have filtered into discussions and scientific publications. But the new study, headed by Wendy C. King, assistant professor of epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, is the first to follow many patients treated at a number of institutions from pre-op through two years post-surgery.

In all, 1,945 adults were assessed from 2006 to 2011. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), meaning abuse and dependence, “significantly increased in the second post-operative year compared with the year prior to surgery or the first post-operative year,” the study says.

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