0512 GMT January 21, 2019
"This is a very important study because it's the first randomized trial comparing bariatric surgery to medical treatment of diabetes with five years of follow-up," said Dr. Philip Schauer, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, according to HealthDay wrote.
Schauer was not involved in the new British study, which was led by Dr. Francesco Rubino of King's College London. Rubino's team tracked five-year outcomes for 53 obese patients with type 2 diabetes. The patients were randomly selected to undergo either one of two types of weight-loss surgery, or just to continue with conventional drug therapy to help control their diabetes.
The study found that half of the 38 weight-loss surgery patients maintained diabetes remission, compared with none of the 15 patients in the drug treatment group.
And regardless of whether or not their diabetes went into full remission, patients who underwent surgery still tended to have lower blood sugar levels than those treated with drugs.
The patients in the surgery group also used far fewer diabetes and heart medications, the research team added.
"The ability of surgery to greatly reduce the need for insulin and other [diabetes] drugs suggests that surgical therapy is a cost-effective approach to treating type 2 diabetes," Rubino said.
The new study is among the first to suggest that these benefits last over time, Rubino's team said.
This study also found that, over five years, the heart risk of people who'd undergone weight-loss surgery was about half that of those in the drug treatment group. Also, patients who had weight-loss surgery were less likely to have diabetes-related complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
None of the patients in the surgery group died or had long-term complications.