Cancer Risk Dropped Dramatically By Weight Loss Surgery

Weight gain is associated with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disorders, and joint disorders. The condition may also be closely related to cancer,  but many people do not know.

This study in JAMA provides the most robust evidence yet for the link between obesity and cancer and the benefits of weight loss surgery on lowering cancer-related risks.

Approximately 30,000 patients were involved in the trial: some had bariatric surgery, some had non-surgical control treatment that included diet and exercise, and information about obesity.

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Ten years after the weight-loss operation, people had a 48% lower risk of dying from cancer and a 32% lower risk of developing 15 common cancers.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist, says, “What we’ve observed here is a considerable effect. Weight loss is a key public health intervention, and this data supports it once again.”

Dr. Ali Aminian, the director, says that to reduce cancer risk, people with obesity must lose substantial weight, more than what they can sustainably lose with diet and exercise alone.

Many factors influence cancer risk due to obesity. There is evidence that fat cells are not inert but very metabolically active.

These substances can lead to liver inflammation, which “can increase cancer risk,” says Aminian.

However, Nissen and Aminian point out that even though the study found surgical weight loss linked to a significant reduction in cancer, surgeries are not a practical option for everyone who is obese.

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Most people cannot lose weight as much through diet and exercise alone, primarily due to their difficulty adhering to the strict regimens required to lose weight.

The FDA has recently approved many weight-loss medications, but they aren’t widely used as tools to fight obesity yet because they aren’t causing enough weight loss for surgeons to accomplish.

Nissen says, “There is one tool for surgeons, and there is now a tool for non-surgeons in drug treatment. These two strategies may be able to lighten the load.