Weight-loss surgery could reduce the risk of cancer by more than half, a new study suggests. While most people undergo such surgery to lose weight and decrease the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, researchers are discovering additional benefits.
In a 10-year follow-up, only 4% of patients who had weight-loss surgery developed a cancer associated with obesity. In comparison, 8.9% of those who did not have the procedure were diagnosed with an obesity-linked cancer after a decade.
The study examined the records of over 55,700 obese patients who underwent surgery and compared them with an equal number of similar patients who did not have a procedure. The patients received various operations, including sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric band procedures.
Among those who had surgery, 2,206 developed obesity-linked cancers, while 4,960 of those who did not have surgery developed such cancers. The researchers took into account other risk factors, such as smoking history, alcohol use, heart disease, hormone therapies, and other illnesses.
“The primary benefit people consider when they think about bariatric surgery is weight loss and the accompanying physical and psychological benefits, such as improved blood pressure and diabetes,” says lead author Dr. Vibhu Chittajallu, a gastroenterology fellow at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, in a statement. “This study adds to the building evidence that the significant weight loss associated with bariatric surgery may have a protective effect against cancer formation as well. We need more research to understand how bariatric surgery affects cancer risk, but the significant findings from this study suggest it’s an exciting avenue for further study.”