Weight loss surgery tied to increase in drinking: study

Updated 16 October 2012
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Weight loss surgery tied to increase in drinking: study

People who had weight loss surgery reported greater alcohol use two years after their procedures, according to a US study.
The researchers, whose findings appeared in the Archives of Surgery, said it’s possible that some patients may turn to drinking if the surgery successfully stops their ability to overeat without addressing underlying issues.
In addition, the effect of certain stomach-shrinking procedures on alcohol tolerance may play a part.
“This is perhaps a risk,” said Alexis Conason, who worked on the study at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
“I don’t think it should deter people from having surgery, but you should be cautious to monitor (alcohol use) after surgery,” Conason told Reuters Health.
The study didn’t show whether people were drinking in a dangerous way, and there was no clear increase in drug use or smoking after surgery.
Her team’s study involved 155 people getting gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery, mostly women. Participants started the study with an average body mass index, or BMI, of 46 — equivalent of a 168 cm (five foot six inch) person weighing 129 kilograms (285 pounds).
Surgery is typically recommended for people with a BMI of at least 40, or at least 35 if they also have health problems such as diabetes or severe sleep apnea.
Alcohol use dropped immediately after surgery, from 61 percent of people who initially reported drinking to 20 percent at one month post-surgery. But by three months, drinking rates had started to creep back up.
And at two years out, people were drinking significantly more often than before their procedures.
That was mainly the case for those who had gastric bypass surgery, not banding. On a scale from 0 to 10 of drinking frequency, where 0 represented never, 5 was sometimes and 10 always, gastric bypass patients reported an increase from 1.86 before surgery to 3.08 two years later.
Conason said gastric bypass, in particular, has been shown to drastically lower alcohol tolerance, to the point that some post-surgery patients have a blood alcohol content above the legal driving limit after just one drink. For some, that could make drinking more appealing, she added.
One limitation of the study is that only one-quarter of the initial participants were still in touch to report their current alcohol and drug use at the two-year mark, so the researchers don’t know how everyone else fared.
James Mitchell, a psychiatrist who has studied alcohol use after weight loss surgery at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks, said there’s also a need for research going on for longer than two years, to see if alcohol use keeps increasing.
“The health risks of obesity are such that people with severe obesity should not forgo bariatric surgery because of this,” said Mitchell, who was not involved in the study.
But he added that everyone should be warned about the possibility of increased alcohol use — and people with a history of alcohol abuse should be especially careful.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/JLp3jy


Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

Farmer Pepe Casanas poses with a scorpion in Los Palacios, Cuba, December 5, 2018. Picture taken December 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

  • In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar
  • The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity

HAVANA: Once a month for the last decade, Pepe Casanas, a 78-year-old Cuban farmer, has hunted down a scorpion to sting himself with, vowing that the venom wards off his rheumatism pains.
His natural remedy is no longer seen as very unusual here.
Researchers in Cuba have found that the venom of the blue scorpion, whose scientific name is Rhopalurus junceus, endemic to the Caribbean island, appears to have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, and may be able to delay tumor growth in some cancer patients.
While some oncologists abroad say more research is needed to be able to properly back up such a claim, Cuban pharmaceutical firm Labiofam has been using scorpion venom since 2011 to manufacture the homeopathic medicine Vidatox.
The remedy has proven popular.
Labiofam Business Director Carlos Alberto Delgado told Reuters sales were climbing 10 percent annually. Vidatox already sells in around 15 countries worldwide and is currently in talks with China to sell the remedy there.
In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar. On the black market abroad it can cost hundred times that — retailers on Amazon.com are seen selling them for up to $140.
“I put the scorpion where I feel pain,” Casanas said while demonstrating his homemade pain relief with a scorpion that he found under a pile of debris on the patch of land he cultivates in Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Rio.
After squeezing it long enough, it stung him and he winced.
“It hurts for a while, but then it calms and goes and I don’t have any more pain,” he said.
Casanas, a leathery-skinned former tobacco farmer who now primarily grows beans for his own consumption, said he sometimes keeps a scorpion under his straw hat like a lucky charm.
It likes the shade and humidity, he says, so just curls up and sleeps.

FROM FARM TO LAB
In a Labiofam laboratory in the southern Cuban city of Cienfuegos, workers dressed in scrubs and hairnets tend to nearly 6,000 scorpions housed in plastic containers lined up on rows of metal racks.
Every few days they feed and water the arachnids that sit on a bed of small stones. Once a month, they apply an 18V electrical jolt to their tails using a handcrafted machine in order to trigger the release of a few drops of venom.
The venom is then diluted with distilled water and shaken vigorously, which homeopathic practitioners believe activates its “vital energy.”
The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity.
After two years of exploitation in the “escorpionario,” they are released back into the wild.
Dr. Fabio Linares, the head of Labiofam’s homeopathic medicine laboratory who developed the medicine, said Vidatox stimulates the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
“After four to five years (of taking it), the doctor whose care I was in told me that my cancer hadn’t advanced,” said Cuban patient Jose Manuel Alvarez Acosta, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.
Still, Labiofam recommends Vidatox as a supplemental treatment and says it should not replace conventional ones.