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Gastric bypass surgery shown to reduce mortality rates

LapbandTwo new studies and an editorial in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine supported gastric-bypass surgery as a way to significantly improve mortality rates in obese people. Such surgery has been performed for quite some time and shown to be effective for weight reduction in morbidly obese patients. But until these studies were completed there was no definitive data on the effects on mortality rate.

The two large and long term studies were performed in Utah and Sweden. The Utah study showed a 40% improvement in mortality rates and the Swedish study 29% compared to overweight patients in the control groups who did not have surgery.

Surgery has proven to be the only substantially effective treatment in this class of patients. Last year, surgeons performed 177,600 gastric-bypass operations in the U.S. But at a cost of $25,000 per operation there will be a lot of debate over whether or not private and government insurance should be expanded to cover more of the procedures. The issue has already been hammered out in the UK where obese teens will receive free stomach surgery.

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