Reduce Risk of Cancer with Weight Loss Surgery

Weight-loss surgery is often looked at as an option for losing weight and improving an obese individual’s physical health. In the United States alone, over a third of American adults are obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The American Journal of Public Health reported that about one in five American deaths were caused by obesity.

In this newest study, it looked at the link between cancer and obesity, and whether or not weight loss surgery helps reduce the risk of cancer among obese individuals, and was reported in the Journal of Obesity Surgery. The research study found that obese patients who underwent weight loss surgery reduced their risk of cancer by approximately 40 percent in comparison with obese individuals that did not get weight loss surgery.

While researchers are not yet sure exactly why the surgery helps to reduce the risk of cancer, it is a good sign for obese adults who are thinking about getting the surgery to help them lose weight and improve their overall health.

The Study

During this research study, researchers looked at 13 different studies on cancer risk and weight loss surgery, comparing the data and analyzing it accordingly. In total, there were 54,257 patients throughout the 13 studies. Some studies were short-term, while others were long-term, up to 23 years after the initial results.

Results of the Study

% Cases Of Specific Cancers Attributed To Obesity

Endometrial Cancer: 49%
Esophageal Adenocarcinoma: 35%
Pancreatic Cancer: 28%
Kidney Cancer: 24%
Gallbladder Cancer: 21%
Breast Cancer: 19%
Colorectal Cancer: 9%
Total Cancer: ~25%

SOURCE: American Institute for Cancer Research, 2014

Before looking at the studies to see if weight loss surgery indeed reduces the cancer risk, researchers looked at obesity and cancer. They found that out of every 1,000 obese people, there were 2.12 cases of cancer among them. The greatest cancer risk reduction from the studies of weight loss surgery patients was in severely obese patients. This makes sense since someone needs to be 100 pounds overweight or more to qualify for weight loss surgery.

They were not sure exactly why the studies showed a positive change, but they believe it has something to do with weight loss and their metabolic changes, or possibly earlier diagnosis of cancer due to lower body mass. The results of the study showed a 50 percent decrease in the risk of cancer, with 1.06 getting cancer after they had bariatric surgery.

Head researcher Daniela Casagrande from the Universidade Federal does the Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil reported in the journal study, “Bariatric surgery is associated with reduced cancer risk in morbidly obese people.” This came after the study that looked at different studies of cancer and weight loss surgery patients. The study, which was published in Obesity Surgery, noted that there are many variables to consider with the decreased risk of cancer even after weight loss surgery.

Related: Weight-Loss Surgery May Prevent Cancer in at-risk Obese Women

About Weight Loss Surgery

When it comes to weight loss surgery and decreasing your risk for cancer and improving your overall health, there are multiple operations available. The most popular type of weight loss surgery and the one that tends to have the best results is gastric bypass. This procedure reduces how much you can eat by creating a small pouch at your small intestine where all of your food is stored. Another type of weight loss procedure is gastric banding, which produced a small pouch in the upper part of your stomach by using a rubber band technique.

This one is the easiest to reverse or adjust based on weight loss or weight gain. The most extreme weight loss procedure is the sleeve gastrectomy because it cannot be reversed. With this procedure, approximately 85 percent of the stomach is surgically removed and remains that way permanently. Dr. Casagrande also noted that the most success was with gastric bypass surgery, but that all of the surgeries might help prevent cancer due to a better awareness of the body with less body mass and more ways to find the early discovery of cancer.

Obesity and Cancer

Cancers are caused by a series of mutations. Each mutation alters the behavior of the cell somewhat (Wikipedia)

A series of mutations cause cancers. Each mutation alters the behavior of the cell somewhat (Wikipedia)

The reason these studies were performed is that there are some links between severe obesity and cancer. There is an increase in obesity among children and adults, as well as a rise in cancer. Other risks of obesity include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and Type II Diabetes.

There is more of a risk for obesity and certain types of cancers, including pancreas, colon and rectum cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer, breast cancer after menopause, and esophagus cancer. A study performed by NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) found that there was a seven percent increase in cancer in obese women and a four percent increase in obese men.

For each type of cancer, there is a different reason obesity can increase your risk. For example, with breast and endometrial cancer, it is due to high levels of estrogen caused by the extra fat tissue in the body. Some tumors are increased if you have increased levels of insulin in the blood, which also shows a link between obesity and cancer. Additionally, obesity gives you chronic inflammation, which can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Weight cycling can also be an issue for cancer, which is common among people who do not get weight loss surgery. If they do get weight loss surgery, they are more likely to keep off the weight they lose than someone without bariatric surgery.

The studies that are looking at the link between obesity and cancer and the decreased risk when these individuals get weight loss surgery may be due to the metabolic changes from the surgery itself, from maintaining the weight loss over an extended period, or from losing weight and having more body awareness. Regardless of the reason, it is an excellent sign for obese individuals that might be at a higher risk for certain types of cancers.

It is also a good reason to consult your doctor about the possibility of getting weight loss surgery if you are a candidate for it. Not everyone makes a good candidate, and it requires a lot of commitment to a brand new, healthier lifestyle. Ask your doctor about getting bariatric surgery and if it is the right option for you.

Related Article:

The Unexpected Benefit of Bariatric Surgery: Lowering Risk of Cancer