Low Blood Sugar Linked to Weight Loss Surgery?
Researchers Say Gastric Bypass Surgery May Have Led to Low Blood Sugar in 6 Patients
July 20, 2005 -- Weight loss surgery is an increasingly popular way to treat
obesity, but researchers suggest that the procedure may also lead to an unusual
Researchers in this week's New England Journal of Medicine describe
six cases in which people were diagnosed with noncancerous tumors in their
pancreas following gastric bypass surgery. These tumors caused the pancreas to
produce too much insulin, the hormone that processes blood sugar, resulting in
symptoms of low blood sugar -- especially following meals.
In each case, the symptoms and low blood sugar problems resolved after
surgical removal of the affected part of the pancreas.
Although it is possible that these tumors were present before the weight
loss surgery, the researchers say it's their belief that the tumors formed
after the surgery. They speculate that gastric bypass surgery can lead to the
growth of these tumors by somehow increasing the growth factors for
They also say that the frequency of these rare tumors in people who have
gastric bypass surgery is much higher than that seen in the general
The 'Dumping Syndrome'
Gastric bypass surgery involves making the stomach smaller and allowing food
to bypass part of the small intestine. The surgery drastically limits the
amount of food a person can eat and the amount of nutrients that are
The surgery may also cause what's known as the "dumping syndrome" --
when food moves too quickly through the smaller stomach pouch and into the
intestines. This can cause symptoms such as nausea, weakness, sweating,
faintness, and possibly diarrhea soon after eating.
More research is needed to confirm if and how gastric bypass surgery may
cause noncancerous growths in the pancreas and low blood sugar.
However, researchers say doctors should be aware of this potentially newly
discovered complication of weight loss surgery and not necessarily ascribe the
symptoms of low blood sugar to the dumping syndrome.