MAY 06, 2024 3:00 AM PDT

Bariatric Surgery Benefits Long-Term Cancer Outcomes

WRITTEN BY: Katie Kokolus

Obesity, a chronic disease characterized by an unhealthy amount of body fat, confers a high risk of several types of cancer, including colorectal, kidney, liver, and pancreatic malignancies.  Lifestyle interventions to combat obesity include healthy eating and regular exercise.  Drug treatments, including semaglutide (Wegovy), can also help obese patients achieve a healthy weight.  Further, bariatric surgery, invasive procedures which modify how the digestive system processes food, can treat obesity. 

In general, maintaining a healthy weight benefits us in many ways. Thus, any approach to weight loss can reduce obesity-related health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. While different weight loss approaches carry different risks and lead to different results, individuals need to consider a lot of information when undertaking a weight loss journey.  

While the most invasive weight loss option, bariatric surgeries may provide the most effective approach to weight loss in severely obese individuals.  Weight loss surgeries can reduce the incidence of developing medical conditions, including metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disorders, and obesity-related cancers

One area that remained unknown until recently is the long-term impact of weight loss surgeries on cancer risk. To address this gap in knowledge, a group of researchers investigated how weight loss following bariatric surgery impacts cancer risk. The researchers recently published the results of their study in Obesity.   

The retrospective study included data from nearly 22,000 bariatric surgery patients who underwent a weight loss procedure between 1982 and 2018.  For comparison, researchers matched the study patients by age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) to patients without a surgical weight loss intervention.  Procedures considered for bariatric surgery included gastric bypass, gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal switch. 

Patients in the bariatric surgery group (surgical) had a 25% lower risk of developing any cancer than the comparison group (nonsurgical).  This difference in risk predominantly occurred in female surgical patients.  When considering just obesity-related cancers, female surgical patients experienced a 44% lower risk than female nonsurgical patients.  Surgery also benefited women, as evidenced by a lower risk of cancer mortality. 


Sources: NEJM (Adams), NEJM (Sjöström), Ann Surg, Obesity

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I received a PhD in Tumor Immunology from SUNY Buffalo and BS and MS degrees from Duquesne University. I also completed a postdoc fellowship at the Penn State College of Medicine. I am interested in developing novel strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies used to extend cancer survivorship.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...