Can Weight-Loss Surgery Lower Cancer Risk for the Obese?

Might cut chances to levels of normal-weight people; findings should be evaluated with care

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FRIDAY, June 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-loss surgery may do more than lower the risk of heart problems and improve type 2 diabetes in obese patients: A new review suggests it may also lower their chances of a cancer diagnosis. The report was published in the journal Obesity Surgery.

The researchers, from the Hospital Sao Lucas in Porto Alegre and other institutions, pooled the results of 13 studies involving more than 54,000 people. Each study looked at cancer rates after weight-loss surgery.

According to the report, cancer rates in obese people are as high as two per 1,000 person-years (the number of years times the number of people in a population affected by a certain illness). However, in those who had the surgery, the researchers found the rate was about one per 1,000 person-years, or nearly that of normal-weight people. The follow-up ranged from two to 23 years after the surgery.

"Bariatric surgery is associated with reduced cancer risk in morbidly obese people [to that of normal-weight people]," the team of Brazilian researchers wrote. The researchers suggest that the conclusion should be viewed with care, since the studies they reviewed differed in the way they were conducted, potentially affecting results. Also, the review was not designed to determine a cause-and-effect link.

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