Lower Uterine Cancer Risk

One reason obesity is particularly concerning is that it is a known risk factor for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, obesity seems to increase the risk of many cancers, including uterine cancer. Obese women have been found to have three times the risk of developing uterine cancer compared to women of normal weight. However, a new study found that weight loss surgery may reduce risk of uterine cancer for obese women—perhaps by as much as 71 percent. The risk remained significantly lower in patients who kept the weight off after surgery versus those who had weight regain, but even those who didn’t keep the weight off had a 52 percent lower risk.

While the study does not prove that weight loss surgery reduces cancer risk, it does add to the growing evidence that obesity elevates risk of cancer, and that losing weight may reduce it. The findings support that “obesity may be a modifiable risk factor related to development of uterine cancer,” reported the researchers.  Next, many want to evaluate whether weight loss through diet and exercise alone, vs with the addition of bariatric surgery, is the better choice. Although each case is unique, we see that bariatric surgery may be more effective at lowering risk compared with other methods of weight loss because it leads to rapid and substantial weight loss, which tends to be greater and more durable. The biologic mechanism by which bariatric surgery might reduce cancer risk isn’t known yet, but some evidence suggests surgery reduces inflammation, which is known to play a role in cancer evolution.

The findings were published as an abstract and presented at a conference, so the data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. You can read more about the obesity—cancer link here.

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