Tuesday, April 22, 2008

60 minutes LIES about gastric bypass

Apparently, some surgeons are getting worried about the lap band taking over the top spot in bariatric surgery (why ever would that be? Because it's ten times safer than the gastric bypass and equally effective?).

So the media is blitzing us with gastric bypass propaganda.

The latest was on the TV show, "60 Minutes". This show presented more than misinformation. In some places they out and out -lied!

Here are some of the more outrageous claims:

Claim: that gastric bypass "cured" diabetes. To "prove" this they had 8 newly post op patients on (the longest out post op was 1 year). "How many of you had diabetes before surgery?" the news anchor asked. And they all raised their hands. "How many of you have diabetes now?" she asked and none of them raised their hands. "Wow!" she said, hoping the audience would be just as impressed.

Reality: The few studies which have looked at longer term gastric bypass patients are more sobering. For example, the Swedish Obesity Study which studied patients 10 years post op, found that at that point, only 35 percent of the weight loss surgery patients were "diabetes free". That's a long way from "curing" diabetes especially as they are trying to push gastric bypass on normal weight people with diabetes now. (SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine: Volume 351:2683-2693 December 23, 2004 Number 26 Lifestyle, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors 10 Years after Bariatric Surgery Lars Sjostrom, M.D., Ph.D et al)

Claim: Then they showed doctors wheeling someone out of surgery and stated that before any weight was lost, in a gastric bypass patient, the blood sugar levels were down to normal.

Reality: This claim is true - the sugar levels immediately do go down in many gastric bypass patients right after surgery but their explanation - something about a gut hormone being affected was bogus. Truth is, anyone who is fasting, has low sugar levels. In fact, many who go on the Weight Watchers program which is a sensible diet (as diets go) also see their sugar levels go down. Mystery solved and nothing really to do with the gastric bypass. The bottom line is that diabetics who have been diagnosed less than 10-14 years ago, can fairly easily get normal sugar levels using diet and exercise, and might not need medication. Diabetics diagnosed more than 10-14 years ago will probably need medication, gastric bypass or not.

They did say that 80 percent (not 100 percent) of the new ops have low sugar levels - those are likely the more recently diagnosed.

Claim: Having finished with diabetes they moved on to cancer. In one of the segments, the news lady asked how many cancers were associated with obesity and the guest, an epidemiologist gave her a laundry list. "I guess it would be easier to ask how many cancers were NOT associated with obesity!" the news anchor says, dramatically.

Reality: In the next sentence, however, the epidemiologist tells us that obesity is a factor in 100,000 deaths from cancer each year. There is really no hard proof for this but if you do the math, deaths from cancer each year according to the CDC, are 550,000 individuals. So what percentage of those deaths, according to the epidemiologist, have a factor of obesity in them? Not even 20 percent... 18 percent. That means that 82 percent of cancer deaths do not have a factor of obesity involved. This would seem to suggest that obesity is not a really "important" factor in cancer, wouldn't it?

It should be mentioned that Glenn Gaesser found in his metastudy of obesity studies that obese people are 40 percent less likely to get cancer than non obese people. (BIG FAT LIES by Glenn Glaesser, CA, 2002) And I have heard from 2 oncologists that fat people are 50 percent more likely to survive cancer than slim people (that's one of those - what is it now - 15 obesity paradoxes?).

Also any study I've ever looked at which named obesity as a factor in cancer in the conclusion of the study, talked about lifestyle (and not obesity) in the body of the study... the conclusion assumed that all people who have unhealthy lifestyles must be obese.

The biggest whopper was yet to come. Neil Hutcher, former president of the ASBMS was asked about early mortality rate with gastric bypass. "Well," he said, "a couple of years ago, it used to be 1 in 100 but now it's about 1 in 1000".

Of course we've heard all kinds of statistics from the ASBMS so I'm not sure where Dr Hutcher was getting his information. Six or seven years ago, the ASBMS claimed the early death statistic on gastric bypass was 1 in 1000 and continued that claim even after no doctor or peer reviewed study stated this! So was Hutcher saying by his statement that 2 or 3 years ago when early gastric bypass deaths were 1 in 100 that the ASBMS was um... misrepresenting the truth when they claimed it was 1 in 1000?

Whatever the case, there is absolutely no foundation in peer reviewed studies that the early death statistics with the gastric bypass are 1 death in 1000 surgeries.

For example, the David Flum Studies of 2003 which is one of the most accurate studies because Flum actually studied 62,000 hospital records of gastric bypass patients, found that 2 in 100 died within 30 days of gastric bypass surgery and another 2-4 percent of patients died during the first year after gastric bypass surgery. (SOURCE: report delivered to the College of surgeons in Oct 21, 2003.[Study title: The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Patient Survival: A Population-Based Study] )

Most surgeons who had a low death statistic, claimed 1 death in 200 surgeries but that was before the Flum studies.

Moving on, Hutcher said that 1 death in 1000 was about the same risk level as gall bladder surgery. I'm sure gastroenterologists will not love him for this statement which is entirely incorrect! Gall bladder surgery carries a death risk of 1 death every 7000 surgeries and is about the same risk level as the adjustable lap band.

The only good thing I can say about this show is they admitted that patients tend to lose only 30 percent of their weight so "few patients end up thin". This was noticed by some WLS afficionados who were not happy about those percentages.

I'm sorry to say this, but for the news about a risky medical procedure which is rapidly becoming out dated, to be that inaccurate, is more that ethically challenged. It's morally bankrupt because people may go and have this surgery based on the misinformation in that show and many will die or get sick.


violet_yoshi said...

I saw that episode, totally made me angry. I mean, who the hell is sponsoring their hour long WLS promotion? It was like watching a infomercial!

I actually thought they might be discussing the side-effects of WLS. Boy, I must've been off that day cause I just got back from Orlando, Florida. I guess the jet lag made me forget that nobody wants to hear that WLS isn't the best thing since sliced bread.

Hillaryis44 said...

The word "bimbo" you used to describe an uninformed or misinformed newsperson bothers me very much as a feminist.

spinsterwitch said...

Thank you, thank you. I've been wandering blogland wondering why no one was critiquing what they had said...the fatosphere has been hollowly empty on it. I'm just guessing that most of us are not drawn to 60 Minutes.

I too was particularly horrified by the inaccuracies, and by the claim that diabetes could be cured. But, even more frightening, was the way that doctor totally blew off the increase in suicidality post-op for WLS patients. It's something like 3 times the rate in general population. And, I'm sorry that isn't just because someone suddenly realizes that their depression isn't about their weight. (And if it were, shouldn't this be a huge part of post-op care?!)

These things make me crazy sometimes.

SueW said...

Hillaryis44, I think you are right about my use of the word "bimbo". I have edited my blog. Thanks!

purplegirl said...

My next-door neighbor at work mentioned this to me today. Totally out of the blue, he asked if I had diabetes. I said no, and he proceeded to tell me that 60 Minutes (which he said as if it is the fount of all knowledge) said that removing the duodenum cured diabetes! I was sure he'd heard it wrong, I pointed out insulin production and regulation is a fuction of the pancreas and has nothing to do with the duodenum, but he wouldn't listen. I said that their diabetes is "cured" because after a gastric bypass, patients basically cannot handle the carb load that aggravates their diabetes. So basically, they're managing their disease with diet, and managing the diet with a surgery. Nothing to do with the duodenum. His exact response was, "But that's what they said on 60 Minutes!"

I gave up after that.

SueW said...

Purplegirl, how frightening to even think that people will decide to have this risky (and not particularly effective) surgery after the misinformation they saw on "60 minutes". ** sigh **


Kimberly said...

You know what? I didn't even read this whole post, because I'm so angry. It's more than obvious that you are against this surgery and that is your prerogative and I don't begrudge you that. HOWEVER, when you blatantly LIE in your posts, it pisses me off. I watched the same 60 Minutes you did...number one...NO ONE stated how post-op any of those people were. Number two: NOT EVERYONE raised their hands when asked if they were diabetic as several were not.

These are just two small things I saw before I stopped reading but I've read enough of your blatherings and picked them apart enough to know that you tend to make up facts to suit your cause. Fine! RNY is not for you. Congrats, lady. It isn't for everyone, but for some people it is the answer and I commend them for trying to take control of their lives. It's a personal decision, just like most other decisions in life, thank GOD!

So, before you state that 60 Minutes lies, maybe you'd better take a peek in your own mirror. Glass houses and all that good stuff.


SueW said...

Kimberly, I respect the fact that you are either pre op (and want to believe the "dream") or newly post op from the RNY and have not felt the ravages of vitamin deficiencies and the co-morbidities of having your digestive tract severely disabled, but first of all, you are wrong about those patients who said they had diabetes before surgery. You apparently watched the show as well as you read my blog (NOT). In fact one can watch a clip of the show which includes the clip asking the patients how many have diabetes. Yes, they all raised their hands and if the person didn't see that, the news lady says "All of you!" ALL. means ALL. So before you accuse someone of lying you'd best have your ducks in a row ,hon.

Secondly, I did make an assumption that all of the patients there were new ops of a year or less... first, they still were pretty overweight (most of them), secondly, they all looked reasonably healthy which is not true when the body runs out of stored vitamins and vitamin deficiency problems happen and third, 4 of them (there were 8 patient) SAID they were less than 1 year post op.

I sure hope your research for WLS was better than how poorly you watched the show. I wish you good luck and suggest you do MORE reading, even of my blog. :)

Here is the clip for anyone who wants to check this:

60 minutes clip

Kimberly said...

So, if I got that piece of it wrong, I apologize, but the fact still remains that I have seen you twist facts again and again to suit your purpose. I have read you....EXTENSIVELY and I have gotten other's opinions of you as well...sadly, none of them good.

The problem is that you make ALOT of assumptions. Even in your response to me, you stated how you assumed they were all no more than a year out of surgery because they all looked healthy. Here's an absolute fact from my own life. I have been in a position to know MANY long term post-op (10 years, 15 years, several at 5 years) and somehow they are all as healthy as can be. No issues, feeling great. I could put you in touch with some as you seem to never be able to find any for your blogging purposes. Maybe all the successful post-ops don't live in your part of the country?

I can respect that you are against this kind of surgery, but I can't respect the use of scare tactics and twisting of words to make your point and I have seen this several times from you. It makes it a one sided show. Yes, there are people who fail desperately after having such a surgery, but often there are other determining factors to that. One friend of mine, who is ten years out, spoke of a man in her support group who managed to eat some pizza on his way home from the hospital. Others don't follow up with doctors and surgeons and supplements. Any surgery holds risk...there isn' a one out there that does not. You just happen to have chosen this one as your scapegoat because you had a friend it did not work for.

I, for one, place my life in God's hands (you do have a blog about religion too). He knows the number of all of our days and I told him that if he brought me to surgery, he would bring me through it and I would accept that as the direction of my life. I trust him above anything else I've read on the internet and no one trumps my relationship with him.

Even if you are right. Even if this surgery is like signing your death warrent if you want to view it that way (not that I believe it, but you do), I, for one, would much rather have ten years of living a fabulous life, than to spend one more year watching it pass me by. I'd much rather be a participant than a spectator any longer. That's the decision I've made through much prayer and meditation. This surgery is not for everyone; it's a very personal decision and that's the way it should be.

Maybe one day, you'll find it in your heart to find some positive, more loving things to blog about. In the meantime, I won't be visiting you again.

violet_yoshi said...

Kimberly, have you heard that people who get WLS, deal with a number of complications usually not told to them, previous to surgery. Such as, wasting disease, gastric dumping syndrome, vomiting sometimes so chronic, that the person continually vomits. Constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, infection, hernia, ect.

Do you honestly think that Obesity, is such a horrible illness, that it's more of a risk than the various complications of WLS I listed above? Did you also know, that there are entire floors in hospitals now, just to cater to people returning post-op for problems due to WLS?

I still am angry too, that they're showing those "If only I were thinner" gastric bypass ads on TV too.

Someday people will see WLS for what it really is. A barbaric uneccessary operation, only used to make money for doctors. If more people knew the truth, than the media is allowing to get out, they'd realize WLS is little more than accepted medical experimentation. It doesn't help fat people, it hurts them. Then again, Hitler felt it was ok to medically experiment on society's undesirables too.

SueW said...

Dear Kimberly,

If you were incorrect about what you accused me of "twisting" could you not be incorrect in your general accusation that I "twist" everything? What you are missing is that I CITE EVERYTHING. So if you don't like what I've printed, please accuse those scientists whose studies I have cited for twisting facts, not me.

Second, actually most people, both in the fatosphere and in the WLS community, do respect me and many WLS surgeons (five of whom have checked and sanctioned my website for accuracy) send their patients to my website because many patients do NOT carefully research before the surgery to make sure they know about the negative side of WLS.

Third, I know many 5 year patients also but already at the 5 year about about 40 percent of these have major problems. They may not be identifying themselves to folks like you because you would probably tell them their weight regain or their illness is their fault and it's enough of a psychological blow for them to realize that not only is this surgery NOT going to deliver to them what it promised but it has delivered to them another set of co-morbidities. Dr Livingston, a WLS warned "By doing this surgery, you're creating a medical disease in the body. Before you expose someone to that risk, you have to be absolutely sure that you are treating an illness which is equal to or greater than the one you are creating."
(Dr Edward Livingston, bariatric surgeon in Self Magazine, 4-2001)

Dr Simpson, another bariatric surgeon whose website is drsimpson.net warns: "The RNY trades one disease for another: it trades obesity for malabsorption. By re-arranging your guts you sometimes have severe side effects, and can have long-term problems such as iron deficiency anemia, calcium deficiency leading to osteoporosis." (Dr Terry Simpson, MD, WLS surgeon)

These are bariatric surgeons talking, Kimberly. Are they twisting words too? They PROVIDE WLS! You see, surgeons try to warn people to research WLS better and know that it is not a magic bullet but in fact a trade-off.

I know several patients at the 10-15 point and many of them are ill. But remember, they are not welcome in places like obesityhelp.com nor many of the surgeons' support groups. They are told by everyone that their surgery making them ill or fat (or both) is their fault. The suicide rate, even admitted on 60 minutes (I suppose you missed that part also) among gastric bypass patients is FULLY THREE TIMES that of the general population and many studies have shown that. These patients who are also turned down by health insurance, even if they are AT their "ideal weight" because of the co-morbities of WLS, have no place to turn for either support OR medical treatment.

Today I talked to a 22 year post op WLS patient who has been bedfast since the 18th year. She has a laundrylist of co morbities and a list just as long of medications she requires daily. She is facing serious surgery (the 6th in the last 3 years) in the near future and she wears a pain patch just to endure the pain. She is a mother who is only 49 years old and should have her life ahead of her. Her surgery kept her slim for 9 years and then, at the 10th year, things started going wrong. A lot of things. Sorry but no fat person I know of is in that bad a condition and before her WLS, she was a fat and fit person who had no restrictions. She is now 10 pounds heavier than she was before her WLS and that with barely eating 1000 calories a day. But she is luckier than several other close friends I've had - they are no longer with us.

It is very concerning that one dear friend of mine who weighs over 500 lbs tells me that she has OUTLIVED 48 of her fat friends who had WLS.

Perhaps you are willing to take the trade-offs (although when the illness strikes, I've seen lots of folks change their minds - it's one thing to SAY one is ok with being ill to be slim and another to really feel that way). But that being said, I DO know folks who are very ill but still slim and feel that trade off is worth it. We all are different and I certainly respect your choices and have no desire to MAKE that choice for you. But I want people to KNOW those trade-offs so they can choose what is best for them.

I hope you do keep reading because the more you know, the better you can handle things that might come up and I wish you the best of luck with your surgery.


Dan said...

Thank you so much for writing about this Sue!

I'm working at a family practice and we had patient who came in citing some of the erroneous statistics from the 60 minutes program. At the time I hadn't heard about the program or its claims but now I'm convinced its simply a biased infomercial and I definitely will be passing on the word to those who had watched the program!

Blei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tropical Guy said...

I am here to tell the opposite point of view and I hope my comments are not removed. I am a 53 year old male, a US citizen now living full time in Costa Rica. Last Christmas my BMI was 34.5 and my weight was 260 lbs. I was pre-diabetic and medicating for that, plus taking statins. I was developing a heart arrhythmia.

In January I elected to undergo a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (aka "VSG" or "Sleeve") to have my stomach reduced in size by about 75%. (The fundus and hunger gland are removed and the stomach is now roughly the size and shape of a banana.)

This is not a lap band nor a bypass procedure; it is only a reduction in stomach size. This does not cause the malabsorption issues of bypass surgery. Meals are about 4-5 oz. each, and my sense of intense hunger no longer exists. I now view food differently and have no cravings.

As of now, July 2010, I am at 205 lbs. and dropping, am off all medications, and my pre-diabetic condition is gone. My blood chemistry has returned to where it was in my 30's and is normal. I am not depressed or suicidal: far from it.

The total cost of this procedure, performed at the highly regarded and very "first world" CIMA center in San Jose Costa Rica, was $11,000 including all pre- and post surgical visits and tests, and meetings with the surgeon, nutritionist, psychologist, and all testing/lab work.

I am truly delighted with the result of my VSG.

SueW said...

Tropical guy, I am glad you are happy with your surgery but there are no long term statistics on what removing most of the stomach can cause. Testimonials are worthless because people are in denial until they get really bitten. Like the whack job who contacted me (also a sleeve patient) who considers herself an authority on WLS and disses all procedures except the sleeve. She apparently had annoyed people all over the web. ** sigh ** I hope you continue to enjoy your sleeve and that it doesn't bit you on the long term but be aware that WLS has caused many problems on the long term. Take your vitamins and do your medical followup and be careful.

Joseph Henry Stevens said...

I'm wondering if I could do it but each time I saw success stories in losing weight I became more determined to do it it's only that I don't know how to start.I have heard something about a formula that will give you a gastric bypass effect but no surgery by Roca Labs, is it true?

SueW said...

Joseph, there is a product which fills your stomach with non digestible "stuff" but it can cause a bowel obstruction and you so don't want one of those. All WLS patients who are keeping off their weight, are doing what non surgical weight maintainers are doing, journaling their food and counting their calories as well as exercising. Al Roker told the "Today Show" that he not only counts his calories daily but runs 5 miles, 3 times a week and uses the elliptical cross trainer on the days he doesn't run. With an intact gastric bypass! That type of program would have taken and kept weight off without surgeries which cause vitamin deficiencies and osteoporosis. I suggest you consider HAES I.e. making mostly healthy food choices and exercising 5 times a week. Will keep you healthy without losing weight.

Julienne said...

Hello Sue, I was a Roca Labs program user last year, I decided to use this alternative before having the actual surgery if ever it will not work for me. I did not lose that much compared to the actual surgery but I lost a total of 43 lbs on using it for 4 months. I didn't have bowel obstruction from using it but I can't say it in general, I'm just basing it from my own experience. Everything was fine for me. I decided not to have the surgery, so now I eat healthy, mostly veggies and fruits and do regular exercise as what you said.