There was a study done by Dr. Magdalena Plecka Ostlund of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm showing that those people that had weight loss surgeries that bypassed the intestines had much higher rates of problems with addiction, depression, alcoholism and attempted suicide than those that had the Lap-Band (or similar type).
“The gastric bypass surgery cohort had higher Hazard Ratios (HR) than the restrictive surgery cohort for substance abuse (HR, 3.8), suicide attempt (HR, 4.1), alcohol abuse (HR, 4.0), and depression (HR, 2.4). For the restrictive surgery cohort, these HRs were, respectively, 1.4, 2.4, 1.2, and 1.8, she said.”
This report has been getting quite a bit of newspaper attention regarding the alcoholism component, and though indeed alcohol abuse is a big problem, there are also significantly large increases in problems in substance abuse, depression and suicide attempts. However, the important element in this story seems to be getting lost, Why isn’t this happening to the Lap Band group? I now would like to ask, can the data be further broken down among folks that had the sleeve gastrectomy without intestinal bypass? Would the Hazard Ratios still hold then? How about for duodenal switch?
Another factor is that the data is reported using Hazard Ratios. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t exactly familiar with the term Hazard Ratios and what they meant in medical reporting, so of course I had to look it up. How I’ve come to understand hazard ratios is that after gastric bypass surgery, there would now be a 3.8 times increase in your risk of developing substance abuse over the control group (ie., those that didn’t have surgery). A Hazard Ratio of 1 would be the equal to the control group. So, the Lap Band group is only slightly greater than the normal population with regards to risk of alcoholism and substance abuse but not nearly like the gastric bypass group is.
For those suffering from any of these, I think it certainly bears more scrutiny as to why there is such a difference between procedures, both for the sake of prevention and treatment. If the cause could be pinpointed and studied, then perhaps the tragedies could be avoided.