Breast cancer risk may be reduced when undergoing weight-loss surgery

Breast cancer risk may be reduced when undergoing weight-loss surgery

By Kristelle Bechayda

The risk of breast cancer for severely obese woman may be lessened when they lose their extra pounds after undergoing weight-loss surgery. This is according a study recently published in the Annals of Surgery.

In the research, two groups of women with morbid obesity were compared: nearly 18,000 who underwent various forms of bariatric surgery and nearly 54,000 who did not. Both groups are similar in age, medical conditions, and body mass index (BMI).

Surprising results

The group who underwent surgery were tracked for an average of about 48 months, while the women who didn’t for an average of about 41 months. It was reported that those who had weight-loss operations had a 37 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer, as compared to women who didn’t.

To add, the risk of having breast cancer was lowered by 28 percent in premenopausal women, where it was more pronounced for ER-negative cancers that don’t depend on estrogen to grow and are more common in younger women.

Meanwhile, postmenopausal women have a much lower risk by 45 percent, with the reduction more pronounced for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive cancers that depend on the hormone estrogen for growth.

Other benefits

“The main takeaway is that the benefits are not exclusive to postmenopausal women or ER-positive women and this adds to the now growing body of literature supporting cancer reduction as a meaningful benefit of weight loss,” said Dr. Brian Smith of UC Irvine Health in California, who was not involved in the study.

The study’s literature also includes a similar 2017 study that found morbidly obese women who had bariatric surgery to less likely develop any type of cancer.

Another benefits of weight loss surgery, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, might also include improvements in many obesity-related health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, urinary incontinence, and knee and hip pain.

Further research to be conducted

However, researchers of the current study noted that the breast cancer reduction risk on their patients began to evaporate about three years after their operations, possible when they started regaining their weight.

In order to find out if the benefit of cancer risk reduction can be maintained, further studies will also need to observe the patients for longer periods and monitor the amount of weight loss and the possible weight that might be regained after the surgery.

“It could just be that this effect we’re seeing is only a short-term effect,” said study leader Heather Spencer Feigelson of the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research in Aurora, Colorado.

Story from Reuters.