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Bariatric Surgery May Lower Tolerance for Alcohol

Researchers found blood alcohol levels were doubled in women who had gastric bypass

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Patients who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery are far less able to process alcohol after their procedure, a small, new study suggests. The research was reported online Aug. 5 in JAMA Surgery.

The finding stems from an analysis involving 17 obese women. Eight had undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery from one to five years before the study began, while the other nine women had not yet had the operation. All of the women were asked to consume either the equivalent of two standard alcoholic drinks or two nonalcoholic drinks in two 10-minute drinking sessions conducted about a week apart. The research team measured blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels.

The researchers found that BAC levels rose much faster among those in the bypass group, and ultimately peaked at levels measured at twice those seen among those in the non-bypass group. BAC levels among the bypass group exceeded legal driving limits for a half-hour following drink consumption. BAC levels never exceeded legal driving limits among the non-bypass group. Feelings of drunkenness were also greater among the bypass group.

“This surgery literally doubles the amount of alcohol that immediately enters your bloodstream,” study author Samuel Klein, M.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis, told HealthDay. “And it also increases the patient’s long-term risk for alcoholism, because the risk for a binge episode of drinking goes up. And we know that binge drinking increases the risk for going on to develop alcoholism in the future.”

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