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 was caused by obesity.
Weight-loss surgery (WLS) is often considered an option for losing weight and improving an obese individual’s physical health. However, the newest 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.
Study: Reduced Risk of Cancer with WLS
The research study, reported in the Journal of Obesity Surgery, looked at 13 different analyses of cancer risk and weight loss surgery. 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. Researchers compared the data and analyzed it accordingly, finding the link between cancer and obesity. They explored whether or not weight loss surgery helps reduce the risk of cancer among obese individuals.
Results of the Study
There is evidence that body fat is linked to at least 13 types of cancer: Endometrial, Esophageal adenocarcinoma, Gastric cardia, Liver, Kidney, Multiple myeloma, Meningioma, Pancreatic, Colorectal, Gallbladder, Breast Postmenopausal, Breast Premenopausal, Ovarian, Thyroid. The research authors discovered % 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 reduces cancer risk, researchers looked at obesity and cancer. They found that out of every 1,000 obese people, there were 2.12 cancer cases 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 cancer diagnosis due to lower body mass. The study showed a 50 percent decrease in cancer risk, with 1.06 getting cancer after bariatric surgery.
In the journal study, head researcher Daniela Casagrande from the Universidade Federal does the Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil reported, “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, published in Obesity Surgery, noted many variables to consider with the decreased risk of cancer even after weight loss surgery.
About Weight Loss Surgery
Multiple surgical treatment for obesity is available, decreasing your risk for cancer and improving your overall health. 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 in your small intestine where all your food is stored. Another weight loss procedure is gastric banding, which produces a small pouch in the upper part of your stomach using a rubber band technique.
This one is the easiest to reverse or adjust based on weight loss or weight gain. Sleeve gastrectomy is the most extreme weight loss procedure 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 successful was gastric bypass surgery, but all 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
These studies were performed because there are some links between severe obesity and cancer. There is an increase in obesity among children and adults and a rise in cancer. Other risks of obesity include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and Type II Diabetes.
There is a higher risk for obesity and certain 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 a seven percent increase in cancer in obese women and a four percent increase in obese men.
The incidence of cancer in young adults under 50 is increasing. Instances of breast, colon, esophageal, gallbladder, kidney, liver, pancreatic, prostate, GI stomach, and thyroid cancers are rising among 30 -, 40-, and 50-years old. [According to CNN]
For each type of cancer, there is a different reason obesity can increase your risk. For example, breast and endometrial cancer are due to high estrogen levels caused by the body’s extra fat tissue. Some tumors are increased if you have increased insulin levels in the blood, which also shows a link between obesity and cancer. Additionally, obesity gives you chronic inflammation, leading to increased cancer risk.
Weight cycling can also be an issue for cancer, which is common among people who do not get weight loss surgery. If they get weight loss surgery, they are more likely to keep off the weight they lose than those without bariatric surgery.
The studies 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 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 whether it is the right option.