Latest research, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, says ‘Obese people who undergo weight-loss surgery become drunk more easily and may inadvertently find themselves over the limit.’
This makes most interesting reading and I wonder how many WLS patients have been warned about these effects?
Dr Peter Holt, a researcher at Rockefeller University in New York, says that overweight patients who have the common ‘stomach stapling’ operations are likely to have large concentrations of alcohol in the blood even if they drink little and which take a long time to wear off. He also claimed that bacteria in parts of the gut cut off in gastric bypasses can produce pure alcohol.
As a result, Dr Holt suggests that all patients who undergo WLS should be warned about the effects on their ability to drink and should think about avoiding alcohol completely if they drive.
Dr Holt quoted the example of a patient who had undergone the operation and several years later found themselves over the drink-drive limit after drinking just one glass of wine!
He said patients should be ‘very concerned’ about high alcohol concentrations in breathalyser tests that prove to be ‘out of proportion to intake’, as alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut, and a ‘significant delay’ in return to normal levels.
‘Patients who have had gastric bypass have also reported greater sensitivity to small amounts of alcohol with more rapid intoxication and lower intolerance than before surgery.’
In addition, ‘bacteria accumulating in stagnant loops of the intestine can produce ethanol (an alcohol) from ingested carbohydrate substrates’.
I am pleased to say that I was warned I would be a ‘cheap date’ where alcohol was concerned and certainly encouraged to avoid it for the first 6 months after surgery. No mention was made of drink driving but then I think I put two and two together anyway and realised that drinking even a small quantity wouldn’t be a good idea if I needed to drive. I wasn’t aware however that readings on breathalysers would produce higher readings that were out of proportion to intake. Nor did I realise that there would be a delay to get back to a normal reading or about the ability of bacteria to produce alcohol in the unused loops of the intestine.
Were you given any advice along these lines?