Dr Shashank Shah, a Pune-based bariatric surgeon, claims to have discovered a surgical cure for type II diabetes, and boasts of an impressive 90% success rate. Should Dr Shah’s claims be confirmed, he stands to help solve one of modern medicine greatest dilemmas: how to thwart the growing epidemic of type II diabetes.
Leading medical experts in the United States have been impressed with Shah’s methods and his data. So much so, that the Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s foremost hospitals, has sponsored an interaction between Dr Shah and 250 of America’s top doctors, diabetologists and endocronologists, to happen this Friday.
Dr Shah will speak for twenty minutes, via video conference, from the Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune, to doctors and consultants at the Cleveland Clinic and around the country. The topic will be, “Metabolic Surgery for Type II Diabetes in the Asian Context”, and afterward, Dr Shah will then be open to the American specialists for questioning.
Wednesday afternoon, at the Bombay Press Club, Dr Shah spoke to a smattering of journalists about his discoveries and upcoming video conference.
“Bariatric surgery is known as the most effective and longest lasting treatment for morbid obesity and its many related conditions, but now we have reason to believe that it may also be the most-effective treatment for type II diabetes and its accompanying diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease,” he said.
According to Dr Shah, India is one of the world’s hubs of diabetes, and tops the list of countries, with over 35 million diabetes patients within its borders. “Until now, type II diabetes could only be controlled by medicine, insulin, diet and exercise, but no cure existed,” he said.
“Of the 185 patients I have operated on, 64% had complete remission of diabetes and an additional 26% had a significant improvement in their diabetes. Many patients experience complete remission within days of the surgery, a shocking and profound discovery. We are 100% on the verge of a medical revolution.”
Dr Shah claims to have first noticed the startling effect that gastric bypass had on type II diabetes around four years ago, but didn’t posses a sample size large enough to be considered statistically significant. As he collected data, a clear pattern emerged, and he recently took his case to the American Society of Metabolic Surgery.
After his presentation, officials from the Cleveland Clinic approached him and asked for his data set, beginning a relationship that will culminate in Friday morning’s video conference presentation.
The speech comes as part of the larger Innovations in Surgery lecture series, and he is the first Indian surgeon to be invited to participate as a speaker. He says this indicates India’s growing prominence as a centre of medical expertise.
Dr Shah explains that as understanding of Type II Diabetes has increased, more and more emphasis has been placed on the role of hormones released during the digestion process and how they alter the body’s effectiveness to monitor blood sugar. He says, “New research indicates that metabolic surgery may improve insulin resistance and
secretion by mechanisms independent of weight loss, most likely involving changes in gastrointestinal hormones.” In short, the surgery itself is responsible for the dramatic positive effects, not the corresponding weight loss.
Unfortunately, the surgery has not been tested on and is suspected not to positively affect Type 1 diabetes, which is often called childhood diabetes. But as Dr Shah points out, it is Type 2 diabetes that has rapidly become one of the world’s most insidious and costliest diseases, inexorably linked to loss of circulation, loss of eyesight and heart damage.
Should Dr Shah’s assertions prove true, he’ll have answered the prayers of the world’s 150 million type II diabetes patients. Despite this, he hasn’t allowed the discovery to go to his head. “I’m just happy to help in whatever way possible. I do this in the name of science and for India.”