Posted on June 29, 2012 at 4:05 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- Doctors have a new warning for people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. The popular weight loss procedure can put you at greater risk of becoming an alcoholic.
Weight loss surgery is an incredibly helpful medical tool for obese patients. By surgically shrinking the stomach’s size and limiting calorie intake, people are able to lose large amounts of weight and get healthy.
But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed people who have the most common type of obesity surgery - gastric bypass - have double the risk of excessive drinking than those who had less drastic weight loss surgeries. The surgery can change the way the body metabolizes and digests alcohol.
“In that difference in absorption, alcohol itself is actually absorbed a little bit more quickly and more readily,” said UT Medicine bariatric surgeon Dr. Richard Peterson.
At the UT Weight Loss Clinic in Westover Hills, Peterson counsels his patients on the risk ahead of time.
He said people with food addictions often transfer those addictive tendencies to other habits like drinking.
“We really talk about it beforehand, so I think making individuals aware of it before, once you’re aware of something you actually have a tendency to avoid it,” Peterson said.
This new research adds to mounting evidence that gastric bypass can lead to alcohol abuse and dependency. It’s a risk patients might consider before they ever go under the knife.
“It’s a potential problem that patients need to know about after surgery,” Peterson said.
The study suggested an additional 2,000 people will develop drinking problems every year after their weight loss surgeries.