Q: I want to persuade my husband to have bariatric surgery. He’s overweight and his diabetes is out of control. Is there new info out there that I can use? -- Lois L., Indianapolis
A: You have asked for help at exactly the right time! There are several new studies that show how bariatric surgery can be a really smart move:
--It can reverse or even cure Type 2 diabetes: In a five-year follow-up of the STAMPEDE trial, Cleveland Clinic research revealed bariatric surgery’s beneficial effects on blood glucose control -- 29 percent of gastric bypass patients and 23 percent of sleeve gastrectomy patients achieved and maintained normal blood glucose levels, compared with just 5 percent of those on medication alone.
--Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is better than intensive lifestyle or medication intervention for reversing Type 2: The CROSSROADS study found that diabetes remission at one year hit 60 percent for these bypass patients, versus 6 percent with lifestyle/medication interventions!
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--In a recent study in JAMA, bariatric surgery reduced joint pain and increased mobility for almost 75 percent of obese patients, both so important for enjoying physical activity that reinforces weight and glucose control.
--Obese folks who underwent the surgery dramatically reduced their risk of dying over a five-year span.
--And, although this doesn’t apply to your husband, in one study, over 47 percent of overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome also had metabolic syndrome (a huge risk factor for diabetes and heart disease). After bariatric surgery, only 21 percent of those women had metabolic syndrome.
Offer your husband this evidence, but remind him that the outcome of the surgery also depends on his commitment to adopt healthier habits. A new study indicates that he’ll see the best results if he weighs himself weekly, stops eating when he feels full, and doesn’t eat continuously during the day. Then he can lose about 39 percent of his baseline weight. That’s 14 percent more than folks who don’t make those positive lifestyle changes. Give him encouragement, and he’ll be successful!
Q: The recent news about water contamination problems is confusing. Can you explain about the risks of hard water and chlorinated water? -- Jeremy V., Sebring, Florida
A: Hard water is defined by the World Health Organization as having more than 60 mg of calcium carbonate per liter; 100 mg is average. It comes from underground, where minerals are, and it may have some health benefits if you drink it. Soft water comes from a mountain lake or a stream fed by a glacier (or a soft water service).
High levels of calcium in your water can be a problem for your home water heater, and a new study indicates that it could be harmful to an infant’s skin. Researchers in England and Wales looked at a possible link between atopic dermatitis, particularly eczema, in infants (it affects 20 percent of kids in the U.K.) and water with high levels of calcium carbonate and chlorine (a common disinfectant added to municipal water supplies). Their research indicates that there’s a good chance high levels of calcium carbonate and possibly chlorine damage infants’ skin biome, making them more vulnerable to skin problems. (Water softeners can counter hard water’s negative effects.)
Chlorine by itself is also a concern: Indications that it may be carcinogenic have led many U.S. municipalities to switch to chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, to prevent contamination in drinking water. However, one city that recently made the switch had big problems! Corpus Christi, Texas, had to ban drinking of municipal water (and bring in bottled water for its citizens) due to the presence of bacteria, fungi and viruses normally eradicated by chlorine. Seems the Texas heat and the aging infrastructure caused nitrification within that system’s pipes, which knocked out the cleaning agents.
If you’re concerned about your water, you can have it tested for hardness and then arrange for a water softener, and install a charcoal water filter (or even a more rigorous one) that removes chlorine.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.