Lifestyle & Belief

Weight loss surgery increases risk of alcoholism


Boston scientists claim a naturally occurring hormone may help people stay fit without exercise and help lower obesity rates.


Timothy A. Clary

A new report suggests that patients who undergo weight loss surgery may become more susceptible to alcoholism.

Reuters Health noted that although the rate of alcohol abuse only climbed 2 percent after the procedures, researchers said this translates into more than 2,000 new cases of abuse every year in the US.

Dr. Robin Blackstone, president of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, explained that the findings are not surprising as patients who undergo procedures like gastric bypass become more sensitive to alcohol. She told Reuters Health, it is because the acid in the stomach usually makes some of the alcohol molecules less potent before they are absorbed.

"When you have a gastric bypass you disconnect most of the acid. We really don't believe they should be using alcohol at all after the procedure," she said. 

More from GlobalPost: Gastric bypass 'better' than gastric banding, study shows

The study, released online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, asked nearly 2,000 women and men who had various kinds of obesity surgery about their drinking habits one year before their operations, versus one and two years afterward. According to the Associated Press, most of the research participants didn’t drink excessively before or after surgery, and increases in drinking didn’t occur until two years post-surgery.

More than two-thirds of the participants had gastric bypass surgery. Two years after the surgery, almost 11 percent had drinking problems, representing a 50 percent increase from before surgery.

Blackstone told the Associated Press that patients should undergo a psychological evaluation prior to their surgery to ensure they are stable enough to endure the changes post-surgery.