Weight Loss May Relieve Urinary Problems

Urinary tract problems like bladder leakage, urgency and frequent urination eased in metabolic syndrome patients who had bariatric surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) If you've got metabolic syndrome, you may have a raised risk for urinary tract symptoms like bladder leakage, having to urinate more often, having to get up at night to go and feeling an urgent need to go. And you may be able to fight those symptoms by losing weight.

The more symptoms of metabolic syndrome that patients had, the more likely they were to have urinary tract problems, a new study found. A separate new study found that patients who had weight loss surgery saw improvements in their symptoms of metabolic syndrome — and reduced urinary tract problems.

Dr. Barry Sears, president of the nonprofit Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead, MA, and creator of The Zone Diet, said having high blood sugar, one of the factors of metabolic syndrome, can lead to urinary problems.

"Metabolic syndrome is caused by inflammation [a result of infection] that disrupts insulin's signaling," and causes the body to make too little insulin, Dr. Sears told dailyRx News. Insulin is a hormone the regulates blood sugar.

Consistent problems with the body making enough insulin can lead to diabetes. Something "that can contribute to inflammation is any type of infection in the urinary tract," Dr. Sears said. "Therefore the connection between urinary problems and metabolic syndrome would not be unexpected."

Having weight loss surgery improved urinary tract problems in many patients, a study by Andrew Kennedy-Smith, FRACS, of Wellington Hospital in New Zealand, and colleagues found.

Bariatric, or weight loss surgery, can include procedures like gastric bypass (when a surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach) or sleeve gastrectomy (in which part of the stomach is removed). Both surgeries are meant to keep patients from eating too much.

Dr. Kennedy-Smith said in a press release "that so many problems, including issues related to urinary function, improve so quickly after bariatric surgery, even before great weight loss has occurred.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of various issues combined — such as having high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Combined, these symptoms can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Patients with metabolic syndrome often also report urinary problems. So Dr. Kennedy-Smith and colleagues looked at 72 obese patients who reported urinary tract problems and also had bariatric surgery. Six weeks later, the patients had fewer urinary tract problems, even those whose weight loss was not great. These patients also saw improvements in their insulin levels — which cut the patients' risk for diabetes, these researchers found.

In another study, led by François Desgrandchamps, MD, of Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, the researchers looked at 4,666 men aged 55 to 100 who had seen their doctors in a 12-day period in 2009. They found that 51. 5 percent of the patients said they had metabolic syndrome and 47 percent had lower urinary tract symptoms.

Having only one symptom of metabolic syndrome doesn’t mean that the patient has the syndrome. The more symptoms a person has, the greater the chances are that he or she has it. Dr. Desgrandchamps and team found that people who reported more symptoms of metabolic syndrome were more likely than those who had few symptoms to also report urinary tract symptoms like urgency or bladder leakage.

Dr. Sears said that people should eat well to avoid metabolic syndrome and urinary problems, such as eating a diet “rich in polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids that will reduce the level of insulin resistance in addition to helping the fight the urinary infection."

Polyphenols are antioxidants (which are infection fighters) found in tea, black olives and many other foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many types of fish and plant oils, such as corn oil.

Both studies were published Dec. 8 in BJU International.

Astellas Pharma funded the study by Dr. Desgrandchamps and team. Dr. Kennedy-Smith’s study was funded by the Wellington Surgical Research Trust, Auckland Hospital Goodfellow Urology Research Trust and Larsen Bequest Middlemore Hospital. None of the authors disclosed conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 5, 2014
Last Updated:
December 9, 2014