FRIDAY, June 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-loss surgery may also help ease urinary incontinence in the long term, a new study suggests.
Obesity is a key risk factor for urinary incontinence, a distressing condition that causes people to accidentally leak urine. Weight-loss surgery helps obese people shed unwanted pounds. In turn, that weight loss seems to help prevent a loss of bladder control, the study from the University of California, San Francisco, found.
This research looked at benefits three years after weight-loss surgery.
"Our findings showing another important long-term benefit to bariatric surgery might help to motivate people who are severely overweight," study first author Dr. Leslee Subak said in a university news release. She is a professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, as well as urology and epidemiology.
An estimated 30 million adults in the United States experience urinary incontinence, according to the study authors. The condition can reduce quality of life, they added.
"Research has previously shown that weight loss by several methods -- low-calorie diet, behavioral weight reduction, and bariatric surgery -- were all associated with improved incontinence in overweight people through the first year," Subak said.
But before this, there hasn't been evidence of the longer-term effects, she noted.
Two thousand people between the ages of 18 and 78 were recruited for the study. All had undergone weight-loss surgery between 2005 and 2009. Their procedures were done at 10 different hospitals around the United States. Most of the participants -- 79 percent -- were women.
About half of the women and more than one-fifth of the men admitted to having an episode of incontinence at least once a week before they had surgery.
A significant weight loss -- 29 percent of body weight for women and 26 percent for men -- led to dramatic improvements in bladder control for most of the study's participants three years after weight-loss surgery. The greater the weight loss, the greater their odds of improvement, the study found.
The authors noted older participants or those with serious walking problems had less progress. Also, with every 10-pound weight gain, the risk of relapse increased.
Results of the study were published online recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.
For more on weight-loss surgery, visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.