In addition to helping obese people lose a significant amount of weight, bariatric surgery may also help obese women reduce their risk for certain cancers, according to new research.
Dr. Susan C. Modesitt from University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville and colleagues evaluated the number and types of cancers in 1482 morbidly obese women who underwent bariatric surgery at the University of Virginia. The data they gathered was compared to cancer statistics from a control population of morbidly obese women who did not undergo surgery.
The study found that 53 of the bariatric surgery patients, 3.6% of the total group, developed invasive cancer. Most of those cases were diagnosed and treated before bariatric surgery, with only 17 women being diagnosed after bariatric surgery. On the other hand, 5.8% of morbidly obese women in the control group who had not undergone bariatric surgery were diagnosed with cancer. The study also found that obese women with cancer, regardless of bariatric surgery, were generally younger than the Virginia Cancer registry average age at diagnosis for virtually all cancers.
The study authors noted that, “Although not conclusive, the fact that most of our women with bariatric surgery were diagnosed before their operation and the fact that fewer bariatric patients were diagnosed with cancer compared with their obese counterparts may lend support to the hypothesis that bariatric surgery could be protective for obesity-related cancers.”