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Doctor touts stomach surgery as possible diabetes remedy

A LOCAL doctor is pioneering a way of treating diabetes by encouraging more than 40 hospitals nationwide to perform stomach-bypass surgery.

Stomach-bypass operations have been found to "cure" type-2 diabetes, an increasingly chronic disease that is often associated with obesity.

After the surgery, many patients who previously suffered from type-2 diabetes were able to stop taking all their diabetes medication and showed no further symptoms.

"We found this gastric operation was able to cure diabetes, irrespective of a patient's weight," said Dr Zheng Chengzhu, a surgeon from Changhe Hospital.

"This is a possible surgical treatment for this type of diabetes," Zheng said.

Gastric-bypass operations involve reconnecting a patient's duodenum with their jejunum in such a way as to reduce the potential volume of the stomach and interfere with the absorption by the bowel. After the operation, food cannot be digested until it reaches the lower part of jejunum.

Gastric surgery is used when treating chronic obesity and gastric cancer, said Zheng. "But we found many patients who were also cured of their diabetes, regardless of their weight."

However, the surgery is seen as risky and so is usually performed only as a last resort. Zheng says the safety of the surgery has improved in recent years to such an extent that it is now a feasible treatment for diabetes.

"We have suggested that more than 40 hospitals nationwide adopt this method of gastric bypass and let us observe the results," he said.

Zheng said 90 to 95 percent of diabetes patients were cured after the surgery, and 60 percent were cured of fatty liver complaints and high blood pressure.

Zheng wants the gastric-bypass operation to be covered by medical insurance. The operation costs about 45,000 yuan (US$6,584) but since it is seen primarily as a treatment for obesity, it is not covered by medical insurance as obesity is not recognized on China's mainland as a disease.


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