Gastric Bypass, Weight Loss Surgery After age 35 Linked to Better Survival Chances

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Feb 12, 2016 06:00 AM EST

Obesity is prevalent in 34.9% of the adult American population, or about 78.6 million citizens, according to the CDC. Some obese patients opt for nutritionally guided meal or diet and exercise plans, others who can no longer lose weight on their own opt for bariatric or gastric bypass surgery.

A new study published in the "JAMA Surgery" reveals how middle-aged and older people experience better survival chances from gastric bypass surgery, WebMD reports. The same study, however, has found that not the same results apply to those who are under 35, as no survival benefit has been found for this age group. In fact, there has been a number of "externally caused deaths" for people aged 35 and below who had gastric bypass surgery, including injuries from accidents, assaults, and even suicides. Additionally, researchers saw this increased risk among women more than among men. While the study was not designed to reveal a cause and effect relationship between weight loss surgery and certain survival outcomes, it did show an association.

According to Reuters, the researchers studied 7.925 patients who had gastric bypass between 1984 and 2002, and 7,925 additional obese patients who did not have surgery. Over the course of seven years, surgery patients aged 35 to 44 were found to be 46% less likely to die from any cause than those who did not undergo surgery. In addition, those who had undergone surgery and were aged 45 to 54 had a 57% less risk of death, while surgery patients aged 55 to 74 were about 50% less likely to die.

However, women who underwent surgery and were 35 years old and below were three times more at risk of dying from an external cause than those who did not undergo surgery.

"Younger patients, especially females, should be counseled on the risk of suicide and accidental death following bariatric surgery," Dr. Daniel Schauer, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who was not involved in the study but reviewed the findings, commented, as per HealthDay.

Dr. Malcolm Kenneth Robinson, an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who was also not involved in the study but reviewed the findings, commented that severely obese women may suffer from deep-rooted anxiety and depression and turn to surgery, thinking it would solve all their issues. They may also become more depressed when they find that health problems persist even after surgery. However, Schauer believes that the study findings are indeed positive.

"Not many medical interventions can reduce mortality by 50 percent over the long term," Schauer commented.

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