Another article about the miraculous effects of bariatric surgery appeared in the news this morning. The procedure has already been proclaimed the “cure” for diabetes and now Canadian researchers have reported that it reduces colon and breast cancer rates by 80% over five years. (“Gastric bypass surgery may stave off cancer,” Thomas H. Maugh II and Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2008. You can read the story here: The authors state that two studies from last August have shown a decrease in overall cancer deaths.

A Dr. Schauer is quoted in the story: “It reaffirms that obesity is a profound risk factor for cancer.” So if we all run out to get a cut-and-paste job on our digestive tracts and keep taking our statins, we can stop worrying about the two things that are most likely to kill us, right? Perhaps there is an easier way to achieve the same results. In Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes explains that cancers are dependent on sugar to grow and to spread. He warns that advanced glycation end products, called by the deliberately chosen acronym, “AGE’s,” are formed when excess sugar molecules attach to and damage proteins in the body, promoting cancer and speeding up the aging process.

Over 200,000 people a year in the US are having gastric bypass procedures. What many people don’t realize is that patients are routinely put on a low-carb diet before the surgery to reduce fatty liver disease to help them survive the operation and afterwards, they are advised to avoid eating sugar and starch to prevent a painful condition called “dumping” and to avoid regaining weight. Some of the people I’ve talked to who have undergone the surgery say they were not aware that a strict low-carb diet for the rest of their lives was part of the protocol. Worse yet, they also have to limit fats to prevent other unpleasant side effects, making it impossible for them to get the nutrients they need without supplements and/or injections. Another problem they will face down the road: the elderly have more trouble with maintaining weight than with obesity.

The surgeries do seem to reduce hunger, but so does the low-carb diet. It is often carb addiction that leads to overeating and, as with any addiction, avoidance is the best treatment. Simply cutting out sugar and starch effectively eliminates the cravings.

Singer Carnie Wilson has been in the news again. After having gastric bypass surgery in 1999, she went from 300 pounds to 146. When she recently hit 208 pounds, she started a new diet which she describes as “organic — no dairy, no carbs, no refined sugar, no red meat — so my diet’s really limited.” She has lost 15 pounds in the past month on her new diet. If she had tried cutting out the carbs nine years ago she might have saved herself a lot of grief.

Read my previous post on the subject here:

(c) 2008, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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15 years ago

I had WLS in 2000 and am having no problems. A low carb diet or WOE was not stressed after surgery-a high protein low fat one was. The eating of lowfat dairy including milk was stressed not low carb.

Judy Barnes Baker
15 years ago

It doesn’t have to be an either-or. You can lose the weight with a good, healthful (and delicious) low-carb diet and gain all the benefits without the risks and the agony. Maybe the surgery helps to reinforce your will power by making you miserable when you cheat, but avoiding the knife whould be motivation enough for me.

15 years ago

Maybe they don’t live long enough to get cancer. The mortality rate for these hatchet jobs is way high–especially as time goes on. Personally, I’d rather be fat than have anal fissures and brain damage, but that’s just me.

Walter Bushell
6 years ago

I call it barbaric surgery.