Bariatric Surgery May Reverse the Effects of Aging

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Nov 152013

Recently studies show that bariatric surgery eliminates signs of type 2 diabetes for 30% of patients. Now a new study by Stanford University researches suggests that this surgery may also reverse the effects of aging.

The primary reason for bariatric surgery is to help obese people lose weight. It achieves this goal by using several methods to restrict food intake, and decrease absorption of food in the patient’s stomach and intestines. After 12 months of surgery, patients typically lose 71% of their excess weight, see a reduction in body wide inflammation by 60% and see a four-fold decline in their fasting insulin.

But now, researches are reporting that this surgery also promotes positive changes in a biomarker associated with aging. What they’re seeing is an increase in telomere length.

Telomeres are repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes to protect the chromosome from deterioration. As we age, the lengths of telomeres become shorter as cells divide to replace older cells in our body. Eventually, these telomeres become too short or disappear completely preventing our cells from duplicating themselves properly or not replicating themselves at all. This is the normal path to aging.

Finding something that may increase the length of our telomeres is like finding a sign pointing to the location of the legendary “Fountain of Youth.” We won’t live forever, but slowing or reversing telomere degradation is an important step in living longer and healthier.

According to Dr. John M. Morton, “Obesity has an adverse effect on health, causes premature aging and reduces life expectancy. This is the first study to show that surgical weight loss may be able to reverse the effects.” In addition to reversing the effects of aging, preventing telomere degradation has reduces your risks of developing type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers.

I believe more research is needed to determine if weight loss, some aspect of bariatric surgery or a combination of the two is directly responsible for the positive changes in the effects of aging.