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Weight-loss surgery can reduce cancer risk

December 31, 2019

A new study found that weight-loss surgery can reduce 50% of cancer risk. Learn more about it in this article.

Weight-loss surgery can reduce cancer risk
Weight-loss surgery can reduce cancer risk/ Ph: Pexels@Nicolas Postiglioni

At the 36th American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek 2019, Oregon Health & Science University researchers presented a new study about reduction in cancer risk among patients with severe obesity who had bariatric or weight-loss surgery.

Bariatric surgery reduces the risk of certain cancers

According to the study, these patients who had significant weight loss (more than 20% of their total weight) after their surgeries were 50% less likely to develop cancer compared to patients who did not have the same percentage of excess weight loss after surgery. Researchers collected data from 2,107 adults who underwent bariatric surgery at hospitals participating in the LABS-2 (Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery) study. 79% of patients were female with the average age of 46 years old. Before surgery, about a third had type 2 diabetes and 44% had a history of smoking. They measured weight and cancer serum biomarkers preoperatively and one year after surgery, because cancer risk reduction can be adjusted for age, sex, education, and smoking history.

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The differences in risk factor for cancer

This study also compared the differences in risk based on the amount of weight lost after the surgery. For example, patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more one year after bariatric surgery had a 60% higher cancer risk than those who have a BMI under 30. Also, 6.2% of patients who lost less than 20% of body weight reported a cancer diagnosis by year 7 while about 3.6% of patients who lost 20% or more of body weight. This represented a 50% reduction. One year after surgery, the average BMI was 33 and the average excess weight loss was 58%. In addition to that, metabolic changes after bariatric surgery contributed to lowering the risk of cancer. If patients can reduce 20% leptin, a hormone released from the fat cells from adipose tissue, they have a 20% reduction in cancer. Other reduce cancer risk factors can be a decrease in diabetes-related fasting glucose, insulin, C-peptide levels, proinsulin, and an increase in ghrelin and the hunger hormone levels.

Since obesity is a major unrecognized risk factor for cancer, there are more people getting weight-loss surgery to reduce cancer risk.

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