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Surgery may reverse diabetes

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More than 25 million Americans are living with diabetes and Type II diabetes accounts for over 90 percent of the cases. For those who are having a hard time controlling this disease with medication, some are turning to surgery for help.

The day Tim Ferree had gastric bypass surgery he was given a new lease on life.

"May 28th, that's the day I had the surgery. That's like a second birthday, so while I don't bake a cake for it and stuff, I celebrate it as a second birthday," says Ferree.

Four years ago, Tim struggled to manage his Type II diabetes with medication. Unmanaged, the disease put him at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke and even blindness.

"I was very, very concerned about what diabetes would do to me and this seemed to be the best shot at controlling that," says Ferree.

So, Tim enrolled in the stampede trial at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Philip Shauer of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric & Metabolic Institute says, "The Stampede study is the first study to compare two types of surgery -- gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy with intense medical therapy."

Researchers looked at how the different weight management techniques affected Type II diabetes. Results show that surgery is better across the board.

"Immediately after the operation, there are certain hormones made by the gut that are increased dramatically and these directly stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin and more effective production of insulin," says Dr. Shauer. "We saw not only an improvement in blood sugar, but improvement in blood pressure and lipids -- by that I mean their dependency on medications was dramatically reduced."

Nearly half of the study participants that had gastric bypass are in remission from their diabetes – including Tim. He's also 60 pounds lighter, and no longer needs to take any medicine to control high blood pressure or cholesterol.

"It was, in a way, I guess, a jump-start into a totally different life," says Ferree.

"This investment is going to pay off for him day in and day out. He will not only have a better quality of life, but it's very likely he's going to live a longer, healthier life," says Dr. Shauer.

Complete results of the stampede trial can be found in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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