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Study Finds Weight-Loss Surgery Reduces Risk of Cancer

Posted by Jenny Albano
Friday, June 20, 2008 12:01 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Obesity, Cancer

Bariatric surgery which helps people lose weight, also reducesthe risk of some cancers.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ obesity-waist circumference/author: U.S. Government 


New evidence shows that weight-loss surgery can be beneficial to your health by reducing the risk of cancer.

A study completed by researchers from McGill University in Montreal found that morbidly obese patients who underwent weight-loss surgery significantly reduced their risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer.

Bariatric surgery is surgery on the stomach and/or intestines that help a person with extreme obesity lose weight. There are two main types of bariatric surgery, adjustable gastric banding and gastric bypass. These types of surgery alter the digestive system's anatomy to cut the volume of food that can be eaten and digested.

Just last year, an estimated 250,000 underwent bariatric surgery in the United States.

Patients should be aware that bariatric surgery is not for cosmetic purposes and fat is not suctioned or surgically removed. Also, this type of surgery requires long-term life changes and is only for those who are 100 or more pounds overweight. It carries some risks and can have complications. 

The study tracked morbidly obese patients, 100 pounds overweight, for a period of five years.

The researchers monitored 1,035 patients who had received bariatric surgery, and 5,746 patients who had not received any weight-loss surgery.

Most patients received gastric bypass surgery, which makes the stomach smaller and allows food to bypass part of the small intestine. According to the researchers, patients who received bariatric surgery had an 80% lower risk of developing cancer.

The researchers found that the incidence of breast cancer was reduced by about 85% and the rate of colon cancer was reduced by around 70%. In addition to this, reductions were found in pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, uterine cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

These findings echo am earlier published report in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that bariatric surgery reduced the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer compared to obese people who did not undergo surgery.

In 2001, researchers at the National Cancer Institute concluded that many types of cancer, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer (lining of the uterus), kidney cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma, were associated with obesity. Also, in 2003, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that obesity could account for 14% of all deaths from cancer in men and 20% of cancer deaths in women.

Morbid obesity is also associated with many other health problems that bariatric surgery has been shown to reduce, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.

Many patients with asthma and arthritis are able to stop taking steroids to treat their health problems a year or so after surgery. People who are overweight generally do not live as long because of the many weight-related health problems they have developed.

These weight loss surgeries can increase a person’s quality of life as well as their lifespan.

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