Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden published a study that shows that gastric bypass cuts the risk of death from heart attack and strokes. The study, published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 4,000 patients in Sweden between 1987 and 2001.

The surgery patients followed all had some form of gastric surgery, either gastric bypass, banding, or vertical banded gastroplasty. They all lost between 16 and 23 percent of their body weight in the years after their surgery. Lars Sjostrom, who led the study, told the AFP that Bariatric surgery was associated with reduced number of fatal heart attack deaths. The control group had no surgery, and lost between 0 and 1 percent of their body weight.

Approximately 200,000 gastric bypass options, where the stomach is sectioned off so that less food can fit inside, are done annually in the United States.

Sjostrom also told the AFP that Bariatric surgery was linked to fewer overall heart attacks and strokes. However, the researchers said that they couldn't establish a significant relationship between the weight loss and the heart attacks or strokes, meaning that there may be another cause behind he reduce risks.

The study said There are many benefits to bariatric surgery and that some of these benefits are independent of the degree of the surgically induced weight loss.

Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told the AFP that this study is promising. The message is clear -- bariatric surgery saves lives, she said. She went on to say that since the study was performed, new methods have been developed that are more effective, meaning that the benefit is likely greater.