Weight loss achieved via bariatric surgery among adults with obesity is linked to a lower risk of developing cancer and cancer-related death compared to adults who do not undergo surgery. The corresponding study was published in JAMA.
"According to the American Cancer Society, obesity is second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of cancer in the United States," said the study's senior author, Steven Nissen, M.D., Chief Academic Officer of the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute, "This study provides the best possible evidence on the value of intentional weight loss to reduce cancer risk and mortality."
Around 43% of American adults live with obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is a significant risk factor for various cancer types, including colorectal, prostate, and renal. Currently, the most effective treatment option for obesity is bariatric surgery, which involves making changes to the digestive system to facilitate weight loss.
In the current study, researchers analyzed health data from 5053 patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery and 25 265 matched patients in a nonsurgical group.
After ten years, the researchers noted that 2.8% of the patients in the surgical group, and 4.9% of those in the nonsurgical group, developed obesity-associated cancer. These findings, noted the researchers, suggest that bariatric surgery is linked to a 32% lower risk of developing cancer.
Meanwhile, after 10 years, 0.8% of those in the surgery group died from cancer, while the same figure stood at 1.4% of those in the nonsurgical group. The researchers noted these findings mean that bariatric surgery is linked to a 48% lower risk of dying from cancer.
"Based on the magnitude of benefit shown in our study, weight loss surgery can be considered in addition to other interventions that can help prevent cancer and reduce mortality," said Jame Abraham, M.D., chairman of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Department at Cleveland Clinic.
"Further research needs to be done to understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for reduced cancer risk following bariatric surgery," he added.