Should Gastroenterologists Treat Diabetes?


An American doctor has rather controversially spoken out to suggest that gastroenterologists and endoscopic technologies should be used to treat diabetes. Ian Taylor, MD, PhD, spoke on the subject at this year’s Digestive Disease Week meeting, where he also took over the presidency of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

“I think it’s time for gastroenterologists to think about the potential for endoscopic approaches to obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Taylor said.
He went on to confirm that he was not suggesting that the wrong specialty was currently treating diabetes or that gastroenterologists should manage glucose levels and other day-to-day health concerns in patients with diabetes. Rather, that the physicians whose specialty involved the health of the gut should be more involved in diseases that appear to originate from that location.
“Obesity and type 2 diabetes originate in the gastrointestinal [GI] tract and depend on how the GI tract talks to the brain. As a result, I believe these diseases are GI diseases and gastroenterologists should be involved in researching and treating them,” Dr. Taylor said.
Francesco Rubino, MD, associate professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, agreed with this assessment, noting, “The understanding of diabetes is evolving. There is a connection between the alimentary tract and glucose metabolism, so the GI tract represents a target for pharmacological, surgical and of course, endoluminal approaches to diabetes.”
Dr Taylor also added that in relation to gastroenterologists who focus on obesity and its related co-morbidities, they seem to be in the minority,believing it to be “largely because of the complexity of the disease and the need for a team approach to treating diabetes.”

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