TODAY   |  March 27, 2012

Studies: Weight-loss surgery can halt diabetes

Two new studies have found that weight-loss surgery can reverse, and possibly even cure, type 2 diabetes. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> could be a major breakthrough when it comes to the epidemic of type ii diabetes . two new studies have found that weight loss surgery can reverse, possibly even cure, the life-threatening disease. dr. nancy synderman is nbc's chief medical editor. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> millions suffer from it. many unaware. my own mother had it. what is the toll this disease is taking?

>> if you look at the global toll, it's estimated by the year 2030 , which is really right around the corner, almost 10% of the global population will have type ii diabetes . it's going to cost a little over $476 billion. that means work days lost, amount of money spent treating it, and if you think about the kind of budget conversations we have in this country, or germany bailing out greece, there isn't enough money in the bank to take care of this epidemic.

>> now comes two studies, reported in the "new england journal of medicine" on monday, and they describe, suggest a breakthrough saying one study in fact says that the researchers treated one-third of a group of people with type ii diabetes with medication only.

>> right.

>> and two-thirds with surgery. what was the findings?

>> so they divided these people. one served medicine, one gastric banding which is putting a band around the stomach, and one-third a real gastric bypass operation , and what they found is, that the two groups that underwent surgery thad, in fact, a reversal of their diabetes within months. they went off their medications. the group that was treated with medicine alone could not control the diabetes. those who underwent surgery had reversal in many cases of their diabetes, it just went away. and in some cases the insulin levels and sugar levels started changing within hours of the operation.

>> even before weight loss ?

>> even before weight loss , change in dmi being now called weight loss surgery , not even weight loss surgery , or bariatric surgery , it's diabetes surgery.

>> does this mean, then, that insurance companies might be in the future more inclined to cover this kind of surgery?

>> well, i think so. because these are not inexpensive operations, $15,000 to $25,000 per operation. then you have to krounch tcrunch the numbers and say okay, it costs so much more to take care of a diabetic, renal disease , heart did ease, stroke, cancer, you name it. i suspect they're going to find out it is less expensive. however, this is not a reason for people to keep eating. it is a reality, though, that we have to recognize this is an epidemic, as a disease, and frankly, that we may have a way to intervene

>> and save lives. dr. nancy synderman. thank you so much. always great to get your perspective. it is 2340u7:18 here's