Weight Surgery May Boost Booze Abuse
The most common type of obesity surgery may increase patients' chances for alcohol abuse, according to the largest study to demonstrate a potential link.
Patients who had gastric bypass surgery faced double the risk for excessive drinking, compared with those who had a less drastic weight-loss operation.
Gastric bypass surgery shrinks the stomach's size and attaches it to a lower portion of the intestine. That limits food intake and the body's ability to absorb calories. Researchers believe it also changes how the body digests and metabolizes alcohol; some people who've had the surgery say they feel alcohol's effects much more quickly, after drinking less, than before the operation. The study suggests that may lead to problem drinking.
The researchers asked nearly 2,000 women and men who had various kinds of obesity surgery at 10 centers nationwide about their drinking habits one year before their operations, versus one and two years afterward. Most didn't drink excessively before or after surgery, and increases in drinking didn't occur until two years post-surgery.
More than two-thirds had gastric bypass surgery and were most at risk. Two years after the surgery, almost 11 percent, or 103 of 996 bypass patients, had drinking problems, a 50 percent increase from before surgery.