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Weight Loss Surgery Linked to Boozing Less

A surprise hormonal side-effect of gastric bypass turns out to be reduced cravings for alcoholic drinks.

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Gastric bypass comes with unexpected
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By Valerie Tejeda

05/25/12

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People who receive weight loss surgery find one side-effect is that they crave less alcohol, new research shows. Weight loss surgeries have become a popular choice for people trying to lose weight by decreasing their stomach size, through procedures such as Roux-en-Y surgery—commonly known as gastric bypass. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio followed 80,000 weight-loss surgery patients, and found that those who received gastric bypass drank fewer alcohol beverages afterwards. (People who received other weight loss surgeries saw no change.) Wanting to dig a little deeper, the research team performed the gastric bypass surgeries on rats who were bred to crave alcohol, and found that they also then quit drinking. "It's a real phenomenon," says lead researcher John Davis. His team believes the drop in alcohol use to be due to a hormone called GLP-1, which is produced in the digestive tract—the repositioning of the stomach, causes the hormone to be produced more often. "GLP-1 travels through the blood to get to the brain, where it is thought to stimulate an aversion to food," says Davis. He believes this hormone plays a role in how much food we eat, and may similarly effect booze consumption because many alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories. These results fit those of another study performed by Carel le Roux at Imperial College London who said, "the surgery makes you less bothered about your favorite 'sin', whether this is food or alcohol".

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