NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Type 2 diabetes is a global epidemic, afflicting tens of millions and costing hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare, but now, a new study is showing that surgery may actually be a better option than drugs.
Gemma Venuti was once morbidly obese. The 5' 4" Westchester resident was pushing 200 pounds just a year and a half ago and worse yet, she had developed type 2 diabetes.
"I was taking different oral medications. It wasn't working, so I was put on insulin," said Venuti. "Still not really working for me and it started affecting my kidney and I had hypertension also."
That's when she decided to take a big step and had gastric bypass surgery, not to lose weight, although she lost 60 pounds, but to control her diabetes.
"My diabetes is normal now, in remission," said Venuti. "My kidney function is all normal, I'm not taking any type of medication."
Venuti's success is not a fluke. In two major studies, researchers report that obesity surgery achieved far better blood sugar control than drugs in obese, type-2 diabetics.
"At least 75 percent of patients who had surgery had a condition that we call complete remission of diabetes," explained Dr. Francesco Rubino. "In other words, they were able to stop their medications and their blood sugar levels became normal."
The blood sugar control happened within two or three weeks, so it was not due to weight loss. But Dr. Rubino says exactly how surgery stops and reverses diabetes is not clear.
"Surgery changes the anatomy of the organ and as a result, changes the way the organ makes hormones and changes the metabolism," said Rubino.
Venuti is just happy it worked.
"I feel better, much better," she said. "I feel great."
Dr. Rubinio is also performing the surgery on normal weight diabetics to see how it works on them.
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