People hoping to shed pounds with the popular weight-loss procedure, gastric bypass surgery, may encounter trouble with alcoholism as a result. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh followed more than 2,000 patients in six cities who received Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (a form of gastric bypass surgery permanently reduces the size of a person’s stomach) and found that 20.8 percent of these patients had developed symptoms of alcohol use disorder by year five. Being that the rate of alcoholism in the general population is under 10 percent, these new findings are cause for concern.

The initial results of this study were published in 2012 and showed that approximately 9 percent of patients had developed alcoholism. But as time went by, more and more people struggled with alcoholism.

“So this study, with the longer follow up, what we found is that people that hadn’t developed symptoms of alcohol use disorder in the first two years may in year three, may in year five, may in year seven,” said Wendy King, lead author of the study and epidemiology professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “There’s not really just a short period that people need to be monitored, but they need to be monitored over the long term.”

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends that patients be screened for alcoholism before the surgery. The group also recommends that people who are high risk for alcoholism completely abstain from drinking following the surgery, and that people with active alcoholism not be considered candidates for the surgery.


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