The relationship between bariatric surgery and some forms of cancer has been well established. Along with other health risks, obesity is frequently cited as a risk factor for breast, colon, endometrial, kidney and esophageal cancers.
Current recommendations to reduce the risk for developing these cancers include avoiding weight gain by establishing healthy nutrition and exercise habits. The extent to which cancer can be avoided if an obese person loses weight is still debated.
Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine were interested in this question and designed a long-term research study to examine it. The study looked at almost 7000 gastric bypass patients who had their surgery between 1984 and 2002. The occurrence of cancer and cancer-related death of this group was followed until 2007 and compared with a group of 9,600 people who had not undergone bariatric surgery.
The study showed a 46% lower incidence of cancer related death in the surgery group and the chances of developing cancer to begin with were 26% lower.
These results were more impressive than similar research involving gastric band, vertical banded gastroplasty and gastric bypass patients. This study showed a 30% lower occurrence rate of cancer in women but no significant difference in men.
Further research is necessary to determine if procedures other than gastric bypass can achieve similar reductions in cancer incidence and death rate. There is no reason to expect that the type of weight loss is significant in lowering cancer rates assuming that the patient adopts a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy nutrition and exercise.