A recent study completed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests there may be a link between gastric bypass surgery and alcohol-use disorders.
Gastric bypass, which roughly 200,000 people go through each year, involves the stomach being reduced in size and the intestine shortened. This limits how much a person can eat. But it may also have some other unwanted side effects.
The study, which was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that there is a change in alcohol sensitivity in individuals that have gastric bypass.
“A gastric bypass patient has a small pouch [for a stomach] so alcohol goes straight into the intestine and is absorbed rapidly,” Dr. Mitchell Roslin, a bariatric surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, tells ABC News. “When it is absorbed rapidly, there is a high peak and rapid fall.”
Alcohol is made more addictive due to the higher absorption rate.
According to the study, alcohol-use disorders were not found in patients until the second post-operative year, noting that continuing education about alcohol is needed long after the first surgical year. Follow-up with patients regarding alcohol consumption is even more important.
“Given that the increased rates of alcohol use disorders post-operatively are equivalent to what is seen in the general population, it shouldn't be a reason to avoid a life-saving procedure,” Dr. Leslie Heinberg, the Director of Behavioral Services for the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, tells ABC News. “Rather, it points to the importance of education, informed consent and continued monitoring.”
Click here to read the full article and watch a video on the link between weight-loss surgery and alcoholism on ABCNews.com.