Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oh, Really? Gastric Bypass Lowers Risk of Death? SHOCKER . . .

Maybe I'm overly cynical and I've been drinking the surgery Kool-Aid a little too much but TIME magazine ran an article this week on a study from the New England Journal of Medicine with the "No S*it, Sherlock" title of "Gastric Bypass Lowers Risk of Death".

The equally unsurprising (and sorta condiscending) lead of the story reads . . .

"Whether one regards bariatric surgery — last-resort weight-loss operations such as gastric bypass and stomach stapling — as an essential treatment for obesity or as a failure of the fat person's will, the fact is, it works."

Some interesting facts from the article -

  • The mortality rate attributable to obesity-related disease was 52% lower on the whole in the surgery group.

  • After gastric bypass, patients were 92% less likely to die from diabetes, 59% less likely to die from coronary artery disease, and 60% less likely to be killed by cancer.

Here is my problem with this article - of COURSE the surgery reduces death risks!

It is MODERN MEDICINE. We're not rubbing mud from the Mississippi Delta on our bellies. We're not taking pills with the oil of a rare fish's eggs inside. We're not wrapping our bodies in Saran Wrap. We're not just trying ANOTHER fad diet. It's not electro-shock treatments on our muscles. We're not praying to Saint FattyPants for "mercy" from food.

We are leveraging one of the greatest advances in the history of obesity medicine to our own health advantage.

OF COURSE gastric bypass will lower death risks. Why would any one ever think that the surgery would NOT reduce the risks of death? Hmmmmm - lose dozens to hundreds of pounds (depending on where you start and how far you go with the loss) and get off your medicines and get rid of your C-PAP and see your feet for the first time in years and start to like yourself again and excercise more and lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol and your risks for heart attack and stroke - all POSSIBLE, for me (and I would presume all of us), because of a surgical procedure.

And don't bring MY "will power" in to this. Do we look at the clinically insane as just being too "lazy" to get happy? NO. Do we criticize people with learning disabilities for not working hard enough on their reading, writing and arithmetic? Uh-no. Has any study in a prestigious medical journal ever challenged that a person with severe and regular migraine headaches is just too self absorbed to shake the pain? Nope. These are all medical conditions that are treatable. They can all be overcome. They can all be managed. How? MODERN MEDICINE.

Now, I hate to get on my soap box AGAIN but why, in late-2007 is it still okay to take cheap shots at fat people and our use of this surgery? I often discuss (and this is not my original thought so I am not taking credit for it but I love the logic) that gastric bypass for me is like chemotherapy and radical surgery for a life long smoker with lung cancer.

No where in the history of media coverage has an article that I have read (please feel free to prove me wrong) nor has the medical community nor has the general public opinion EVER said publicly that a smoker who gets lung cancer doesn't deserve to have medicine on their side in their fight. No one ever dismisses the condition they are now in because they lacked the will power to quit smoking years ago. Never do they have to read in TIME magazine that chemo and surgery can actually help fight and beat lung cancer if done right. Why? It is MODERN MEDICINE. And they deserve whatever treatment and help medicince can offer them - regardless of how or why they got to where they are when they decide they are at rock bottom and they are ready to get healthy.

Alright, enough - I've got a pile of work to do and I am leaving a little early today to get in an extra long workout this evening (I hope TIME magazine approves of my use of excercise to overcome my weight battle).

To read the TIME article, click here.

No comments: