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Gastric Bypass Surgery Might Increase Alcoholism Risk

gastric bypass surgery alcoholism

Researchers think they may have found a possible link between a well-known weight loss procedure and an increased risk of alcoholism, according to The Independent.

Gastric bypass surgery, a type of surgery designed to curb obesity by drastically reducing the size of a patient’s stomach, works by reducing the amount of food that can be eaten. While this procedure helps many people lose large amounts of weight, it may also inadvertently affect the patient’s actual body chemistry, making drinking feel more satisfying, the article explained. This increased sense of reward after drinking may in turn increase the likelihood of dependency.

Unexpected Findings in Animal Studies

Research animals that were given the surgery showed a significant increase in alcohol consumption afterward, the article pointed out. The observations in research animals were significant and surprising enough to spark a human trail to study this possible risk at St. Olav’s University in Trondheim, Norway.

Peak Alcohol Concentration Comes on More Quickly

Gastric bypass surgery also seems to cause alcohol to reach the bloodstream much more quickly. Instead of taking 30 minutes for the blood to reach peak alcohol concentration like normal, this level of concentration only takes five to 10 minutes for those who’ve had the surgery, one of the researchers in the article explained.

This increased rate of alcohol absorption may contribute to the increased risk of alcoholism, according to ABC News. Essentially, drinking alcohol after this surgery results in a rapid peak and an equally rapid fall, which allow those who have had the surgery to keep on drinking when they normally would have stopped.

What Can Be Done?

Since gastric bypass remains one of the most effective means of helping obese patients lose weight, the best way to address this issue is for bariatric health care professionals to educate their patients on alcohol consumption and the increased risk of alcohol use disorders in the two years following the surgery, the ABC News article indicated.

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