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In efforts to cut down weight, bariatric surgery presents a very effective and easy alternative.Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and Sleeve Gastrectomy are two of the most popular methods of bariatric surgery practiced in the US and around the world.However, new findings show that these procedures have one major hazard that should not be taken lightly: a higher risk of developing alcoholism.
With an increasing number of people in the United States opting for sleeve gastrectomy, researchers from the University of Illinois and Washington University School of Medicine sought to find their effect on drug absorption after surgery.The research aimed at finding the action of alcohol in a body that has undergone such a procedure.This is also known as alcohol pharmacokinetics.
Marta Yanina Pepino, the lead researcher and an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, said their findings indicated that these bariatric surgeries speed up alcohol absorption of the body.Blood alcohol levels were observed to reach very high levels and at a much faster rate than would be expected in an individual who has not gone under surgery.
"After having a sleeve gastrectomy, if a woman has a couple of drinks, she could be exposing her brain to blood alcohol levels that are achieved in a woman without surgery when she consumes four or five drinks," explained the lead author of the research, M.Belen Acevedo.This can make the casual two glasses feel like six to eight glasses.Such high alcohol content in the body has been associated with an increased risk of developing alcohol-related problems.If a patient is to indulge in frequent drinking, they can easily fall victim to alcoholism.
Pepino explained further that it is crucial to know the pharmacokinetics of any drug.This way, the extreme effects of the drug may be determined.The faster a drug is absorbed, the higher the potential for addiction.
Although research on sleeve gastrectomy has been done before, Pepino says that earlier findings don't concur with their own.Out of the three earlier published research, two did not find any change in blood alcohol levels.The other one recorded that sleeve surgery causes a higher blood alcohol peak.Furthermore, in all the previous research, researchers used the breathalyzer to estimate the amount of blood alcohol levels.This proves not to be the most reliable means in estimating the blood alcohol levels in bariatric patients.
Pepino's research involved only women.This is because most of the patients who get bariatric surgery are women.Her sample included 11 women who had taken sleeve surgery and 8 who had taken Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery.All of them had had their surgeries one to five years prior to the research.The sample also included 9 other women who had not had any surgery.
The women were all asked to drink an equivalent of two standard alcoholic drinks in about 10 minutes.The researchers then measured their blood alcohol levels using gas chromatography.For comparison reasons, they also measured blood alcohol levels using a Breathalyzer.Both readings were repeated a couple of times at three-minute intervals.The women were also asked to fill a questionnaire to determine how drunk they were.
The findings were as follows: the blood alcohol contents for the women who had not had any surgery peaked at 0.6g/L after about 26 minutes of consumption.For those who had sleeve surgery and RYGB, blood alcohol contents peaked at 1.1 and 1.0 g/L about 9 and 5 minutes respectively, after consumption.In addition, the women who had surgery reported a more intense sensation of drunkenness.
As for other findings, the readings made by the breathalyzer were compared to those made by the gas chromatography.It was found that the breathalyzer had underestimated blood alcohol level by 27 percent.In addition to that, with the breathalyzer, one has to wait for about 15 minutes after consumption of the final drink to take the readings.Pepino pointed out that these were the two main reasons why the breathalyzer proved to be an unreliable way to estimate the blood alcohol content levels for bariatric surgery patients.
Pepino concluded by saying that bariatric surgeries are the most effective long-term treatment of obesity available in the medical world today.The therapeutic effects of these surgical procedures are unequaled.People recover from diseases such as diabetes and are able to leave many of their medications because of these procedures.Findings from this study, or any other that seeks to bring out associations between bariatric surgery and increased risk to develop alcoholism or any other related condition, does not necessarily mean that we should not perform these procedures."We hope our finding motivates surgeons and the team of bariatric support professionals interacting with bariatric patients to discuss the potentially serious consequences of moderate alcohol consumption following sleeve gastrectomy and RYGB surgeries," Pepino claims.