Does Losing Weight Make You a "Lightweight" Drinker? ­­­– Chromatography Explores

Jan 06 2018 Read 1841 Times

A recent study published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases has highlighted an unusual consequence of surgery performed to help people lose weight. They could become drunk much quicker than normal. Whilst this might seem like nirvana to a 19-year-old on a Friday night binge — in reality, it could have serious consequences including an increased risk of an alcohol related disease.

Operation weight loss

The procedure the study considered is called a sleeve gastrectomy. This is a surgical weight-loss procedure that is used to help obese people to lose weight. The surgery involves removing a large volume of the stomach — reducing the stomach to only 15% of its original size. This leaves a tube-like stomach — or sleeve.

The procedure is irreversible — unlike gastric band surgery, where the band can be removed if necessary. With a much smaller stomach, the patient cannot eat as much food and feels fuller more quickly than before. Although the surgery is usually performed using keyhole surgery techniques, the patient is under general anaesthetic and thus risks are involved.

Get drunk quicker — not always a good thing

It has been previously reported that women who had undergone gastric bypass surgery were affected more quickly by alcoholic drinks. Gastric bypass is a technique where staples are used to make a small pouch at the top of your stomach which is then connected to your small intestine bypassing most of the stomach. So, it takes less food to make you feel full — hopefully leading to a reduced calorie intake and weight loss.

The study wanted to compare the effect of alcoholic drinks on patients who had undergone sleeve gastrectomy surgery compared with a control group and a group who had undergone gastric bypass surgery. It was thought that blood alcohol levels increase faster after surgery.

Chromatography beats a breathalyzer

The team used gas chromatography to measure the blood alcohol levels of the subjects, comparing the levels to readings taken from breathalyzer machines and the ladies estimation of their drunkenness. The use of GC to measure analytes is discussed in the article, A New Method for Fast Residual Solvents Analysis and Untargeted Unknown Identification Faster Sample Throughput and Shorter GC Runtimes Using GC-VUV and Static Headspace.

The team found that blood alcohol levels were almost double in the group that had had sleeve surgery when compared to the women who hadn’t had any surgery, and that the women reported that the women who underwent surgery reported more intense feelings of drunkenness. In a press release from the University of Illinois, one of paper’s authors states ‘After having a sleeve gastrectomy, if a woman has a couple of drinks, she could be exposing her brain to blood alcohol levels that are achieved in a woman without surgery when she consumes four or five drinks.’ The breathalyzer method also underestimated the blood alcohol readings when compared to the gold standard chromatography method.

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