Is Anti-Cholesterol Surgery Helpful in Protecting Against Diabetes?

images (26)Surgery to bypass part of the ileum, a length of the small intestine, is known to have beneficial effects on cholesterol and blood fat levels. The procedure is known to cut down on heart disease. Another result of the procedure is to raise levels of a molecule called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This molecule…

  • stimulates insulin secretion from the pancreas,
  • improves insulin sensitivity, and
  • lowers the release of sugar from the liver.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota in the United States found evidence a partial ileal bypass reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In their study, reported on in January of 2016 in the journal Surgical Obesity and Related Diseases, the scientists compared the results of individuals who had undergone a partial ileal bypass with those who had not, the control group. A total of 8 participants or 10 percent of the surgical patients, had developed Type 2 diabetes. Among the control group, 17, or 25.8 percent of the group had developed the condition. The scientists concluded that partial ileal bypass surgery can protect people from developing Type 2 diabetes for over 30 years.

The ileum lies below the stomach, duodenum, and jejunum, forming the third part of the small intestine. The small intestine’s job is to absorb nutrients and water and to make GLP-1. When part of the ileum is removed, more nutrients are exposed to the L cells, which produce GLP-1. Removal of a part of the ileum is thought to stimulate the L cells into making more GLP-1. The ileum absorbs…

  • vitamin B12,
  • calcium and
  • bile salts.

Bile salts are necessary for absorbing cholesterol. Although most cholesterol is absorbed in the duodenum and jejunum, they require bile salts for absorption. Bile salts from the ileum are absorbed into the blood. From there they travel to the upper levels of the small intestine, where they help with cholesterol absorption.

Known side effects of partial ileal bypass include…

  • diarrhea,
  • lowered calcium absorption,
  • lowered vitamin B12 absorption,
  • kidney stones.

Diarrhea resolves spontaneously. Vitamin B12 is needed to make red blood cells and, following this type of surgery, patients need to have B12 injections to prevent anemia.

In general, possible side effects of every surgical procedure include…

  • abnormal bleeding,
  • infection,
  • untoward reaction to anesthetic or antibiotics.

The procedure might be something to discuss with your doctor if you have high cholesterol or risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Risk factors such as…

  • obesity,
  • a sedentary lifestyle,
  • prediabetes or high blood sugar,
  • a family history of diabetes in parents or siblings,
  • a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.