Gastric bypass surgery may help type 2 diabetes patients. - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

From: NBC News

Gastric bypass surgery may help type 2 diabetes patients.

Recently a report on the rapid rise in diabetes in this country: A stunning 24-million Americans have diabetes now.  That is an increase of 3-million in just 2-years.

Now some Type-2 diabetes patients are taking a radical, but, it turns out, effective, step to reverse course by resorting to treatment intended for something ELSE.

Here is one case.  At 52 years old, Joe Tax is worried.  Type 2 diabetes is wearing on his body.

Joe says: "I'm getting secondary effects already - I've got tingling in my toes - which is one of them - I've had my retinas checked for bleeding."

Joe is so tired of it that he has signed up to be one of 10 patients, the first in the country, to participate in a study using a version of gastric bypass surgery to treat diabetes.

In an unexpected side effect to full gastric bypass, which is normally used to treat obesity, doctors have discovered some patients' diabetes improved or was even eliminated. 

One study published in 2004 -- of some 22 thousand patients -- said the disease was eliminated after surgery in more than 76 percent.

The study subjects undergo a Duodenum bypass, the stomach is untouched while the small intestine is disconnected and reconnected downstream. Bypassing what's called the duodenum.

There are skeptics.  Dr. David Nathan heads up the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.  "You always in the U.S. where fad medicine, unfortunately, is often very common whether in fact there will be lots of people rushing to get a procedure - a surgical procedure which has risks with it whereas they could in fact treat themselves with diet, lifestyle changes and medications

Dr. Rangraj says "If we could take care of diabetes with medicine - none of us would be here talking about it"

Joe says "It would be so great to go into a pizza shop and have two slices of pizza... I want to live like a normal person.  It's worth taking a chance."

Joe is recovering from the surgery and doctors will monitor him to see if his diabetes disappears... hoping its step one in a long battle against type 2 diabetes.