Recently I read about a new study that links increased risk for colon cancer with weight loss surgery. I thought it was important to share this information with you, because it seems to me that information about the possible negative side effects of weight loss surgery is so often buried in the general media. And I think the positive effects of weight loss surgery are often blown out of proportion in the media as well.
That’s not to say that I have any interest in telling you what to do with your body. It’s YOURS. You should do whatever you think is best. However, with over 100,000 weight loss surgeries performed in the US annually, I know that weight loss surgery is big business, and therefore, there are large financial incentives for certain companies to suppress information about the potential unfortunate side effects from these surgeries. So I’d like to provide a few links to some of information about weight loss surgery that is not supported by those who profit from it. And hopefully I can help “balance the scales” a little bit.
To be clear, one of the potential side effects of this surgery is death. To be sure, there is a risk of death from any surgery. But there is growing concern that the risks of weight loss surgery are often underplayed and that the evidence often cited concerning the potential upside to weight loss surgery (including savings in medical costs and lives) is deeply flawed. It is also really important to understand that weight loss surgery is not a miracle cure, and it isn’t always the patient’s fault when things go wrong. It seems that weight loss surgery is often treated like other weight loss techniques in that success is usually attributed to the surgery and failure is usually blamed on the patient. Thus many who have negative experiences with weight loss surgery are often shamed and ridiculed and even asked to leave public forums where they might share their stories. That’s why I think it’s important to share this link to a site dedicated to those who wish to share their stories about complications arising from weight loss surgery. I think people who are considering weight loss surgery are provided with plenty of links to people often still experiencing the “honeymoon glow” of the initial weight loss. But I think if you are considering this important life-changing step, you should also have access to a few of the heartbreaking stories of those who have not had such a wonderful experience.
To reiterate. I am not telling you that you should or should not have weight loss surgery. It is your body and your decision. Clearly some people feel that the surgery has had a positive effect in their life and there are plenty of places where you can read about that. I know people who have had the surgery and are glad they did. But I have also known and cared for people who have died from these procedures. I know people who have had these procedures and didn’t feel they were told the truth about what to expect. I know people who felt that the potential downside was significantly underplayed and wish that they were given more balanced information before they had the surgery. I simply wish to provide a few links that will hopefully help provide that balance.
Last week, while wiling away minutes and hours on facebook, I came across this study about the negative effects of bullying on the bullies. Now lest I be accused of victim blaming (on today of all days) I want to make it clear that nobody deserves to be bullied and there is nothing in this world that makes being a bully okay. But I do find this study compelling. The negative effects of bullying on those who are ostracized have been pretty well documented. Those who are bullied face increased incidence of depression, a compromised immune system, increased stress hormones, poorer blood glucose levels and a whole host of other stress related problems. But I hadn’t really thought before about the negative repercussions for those doing the actual bullying. The study represented in the graph above seems to indicate that those who engage in mean behavior experience a higher level of emotional difficulties than those who don’t.
Now this is just one small study (152 subjects). I don’t think we can establish a clear causal relationship here or in fact any definitive conclusions about bullies based on 152 subjects tested in one very specific scenario. But it does get me thinking. I mean being a bully clearly isn’t the best or most productive way to relate to the world. Learning to cope with ones peers by bullying doesn’t seem likely to promise a future of many happy and rich relationships or fulfillment or happiness. And what about those “innocent bystanders” in the “neutral” category on that chart? What are they learning? Are they learning to keep their head down, stay quiet, and keep off the radar? Are they learning not to stand up and defend those weaker than themselves? Are they learning to keep a low profile and just stay out of it?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I’m unlikely to know anytime soon. But on an instinctual level, it seems clear to me that when there is bullying, nobody and I mean NOBODY wins. When we allow bullying to continue unabated in our homes and schools and churches and public places, we fail. We manifest a world based on fear. Bullies learn a way of relating to the world that is mean and empty and unproductive. Many among those who don’t experience any punishment or negative feedback for their actions learn to bully in ever more terrifying ways–tormenting, assulting, raping and abusing. For some, the first punishment they ever receive as a bully is a life altering one (like a prison sentence and a lifelong criminal record). Neutral parties learn that the only way to stay safe is to remain neutral. And those who are bullied, just try to learn to survive. Sometimes they do, and go on to thrive. Sometimes they don’t and a life is ended far, far too soon.
As a society we have to make a choice. Will we cope with bullying and cruelty when kids are young and the crimes potentially smaller? Will we write off the behavior saying things like “boys will be boys” or “kids have to learn to work these things out for themselves?” Will we wait until both the crime and the punishment will leave irrevocable, lifelong scars? We must chose and chose well. Because when bullying continues unchecked, everybody loses.