Women and Obesity: Weight-loss Surgery Can Reduce Cancer Risk
Research suggests that women who are overweight or obese have a higher cancer risk, including breast cancer and gynecologic cancers such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial (uterine) cancer, and vaginal or vulvar cancer. Obese women also are at higher risk for colorectal, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers.
Why is obesity linked to increased cancer risk? According to studies published by the American Cancer Institute, obesity causes metabolic, hormonal and mechanical changes in the body that can contribute to various types of cancer.
Weight Loss Reduces a Woman’s Risk of Breast Cancer and Other Cancers
While most research investigators say that additional studies are needed before they can determine exactly why so many cancers are associated with obesity, they have determined that reducing body weight and increasing physical activity can lower that cancer risk.
The experts agree that if a woman who is significantly overweight wants to lower her risk for breast cancer and other cancers, she is advised to lose weight — either by limiting calories or undergoing bariatric surgery. She should also get regular, “intentional” exercise, and limit or avoid alcohol.
Bariatric Surgery Reduces Weight & Cancer Risk
Studies show that bariatric surgery can reduce cancer risk once a patient loses weight post-surgery. Regardless of whether the patient has undergone a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, or gastric band procedure, once her weight goes down, so does her cancer risk.
Recent studies from Gothenburg University in Sweden and University of Utah School of Medicine followed morbidly obese women who lost weight with bariatric surgery. These studies showed a 40% reduction in cancer deaths and a 60% reduction in deaths, respectively. The associated cancer-reduction benefits were not seen among the study participants who did not receive bariatric surgery
The specific reasons for reduced cancer risk after weight loss are not entirely known. Most experts think it is associated with the “normalizing” of hormones such as insulin, estrogens, and androgens, which occurs with weight reduction.
Choosing Bariatric Surgery for Weight Reduction and Improved Health
If you are significantly overweight and considering bariatric surgery, discuss your cancer risk with your doctor. Request referral to a weight loss specialist or weight-loss surgeon. This is especially important if your family has a history of certain types of cancer that are associated with obesity, such as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, among others.
If you also have been diagnosed with other weight-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea or heart disease, bariatric surgery may be an appropriate way to help you manage or eliminate these health issues and improve your overall health.
The bariatric experts at miVIP Surgery Centers advise that a bariatric procedure such as gastric sleeve, duodenal switch, gastric band or gastric bypass may be an option for you if:
- Your prior attempts to lose weight with diet and exercise programs have failed
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 35 or higher
- Your blood pressure is increased
- You’ve developed type 2 diabetes and/or other serious weight-related health issues, such as obstructive sleep apnea, increased cholesterol, severe acid reflux, and knee or hip joint problems
If exercise and diet haven’t been enough to help you reach your weight-loss goals and improve your health, consider minimally invasive bariatric surgery at miVIP as a safe, effective option. Meet with one of our surgeons for a free evaluation or consider joining us for a seminar to discuss the different types of weight loss surgery and their benefits.
To learn more about taking charge of your health and reducing your cancer risk with bariatric surgery, call miVIP at (844) 237-5067.
This article was medically reviewed by bariatric surgeons and weight-loss specialists Sergey Lyass, MD, and Dave Martin, MD, as part of miVIP’s Healthy Living Recommendations.
Diet and activity factors that affect risks for certain cancers. Editorial Staff, American Cancer Society
Does body weight affect cancer risk? Editorial Staff, American Cancer Society
What does the American Cancer Society recommend about body weight? Editorial Staff, American Cancer Society.