Weight Loss Surgery May Prevent Cancer

Many of the benefits of weight loss surgery have been known for quite some time. However, a new study regarding the effects of bariatric surgery on obese women is revealing critical new information about how weight loss procedures can reduce a woman’s risk of developing obesity-related cancers.

The study involved assessing the effects of bariatric surgery by monitoring 71 women considered morbidly obese, meaning they all either had body mass indexes (BMI) above 40 or that they were at least 100 pounds above their recommended weights at the time the study began.

Study Results

Of the 71 women initially studied, 68 ultimately decided to undergo weight loss surgery. Those who had surgery lost an average of 100 pounds apiece after the procedure. In another notable finding, about 10 percent of the obese women studied (who had not already had hysterectomies) showed precancerous changes within the linings of their uteruses, all of which were corrected after the women underwent bariatric surgery.

In addition to experiencing dramatic weight loss and, in some cases, improvements to their uterine linings, the women who participated in the study had their body weights reduced by about a third. They also boosted their insulin levels and their abilities to process glucose.

The surgeries were also shown to have positive effects on the presence of gut bacteria, the various microorganisms living within the human body. While the exact effects of gut bacteria has on obesity and one’s odds of developing cancer are not yet known, evidence suggests a positive connection.

Additional Conclusions

Researchers reviewing the results of the study believe that about one-fifth of all cancer fatalities could be prevented if women’s obesity levels were considerably reduced. Specifically, bariatric surgery is believed to lower a woman’s chances of suffering from the following obesity-linked cancers:

  • Endometrial cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Gall bladder cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Breast cancer

Some researchers believe that between 40 and 50 percent of all endometrial cancers, which occur in the lining of a woman’s uterus, can be attributed to obesity.

The Big Picture

While the evidence revealed by this study indicates that weight loss surgery can reduce one’s risk of developing certain cancers, it is important that those who are considerably overweight or obese practice a healthy lifestyle with or without surgery, including making smart eating choices and exercising regularly. Numerous studies show that exercising has the ability to enhance insulin levels and boost glucose levels, both of which can have a strong effect on reducing the risk of cancer.

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