Weight-loss surgery linked to lower cancer death rate in large study
The results come from a long-term study of more than 30,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic between 2004 and 2017. The patients all had a Body mass index of 35 or more – Classified as “Class 2” or “Moderate Risk” obesity by medical professionals.
Researchers followed about 5,000 patients between the ages of 18 and 80 who underwent gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery during the study period. None of the people studied had previously been diagnosed with cancer.
According to the CDC, about 74 percent of US adults are overweight
And their odds of developing or dying from obesity-related cancers like ovarian and pancreatic cancer were significantly lower. During the study, 2.9 percent of the operated patients developed cancer, compared to 4.9 percent of their peers; 0.8 percent died compared to 1.4 percent of nonsurgical patients. The effects were observed universally and appeared to be independent of age, gender or race.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.7 million new cancer cases were reported in 2019 alone. Additionally, nearly 42 percent of US adults had obesity from March 2020.
“With the growing obesity epidemic, obesity-associated cancers are a major public health concern,” said Ali Aminian, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute and lead author of the study. “If we help patients lose weight, we can significantly reduce this risk.”
Bariatric surgery has gained momentum used as a treatment for obesity in recent years, with an estimated 256,000 such procedures performed in the United States in 2019, according to an industry group. The researchers said that “significant weight loss” is required to reduce the risk of cancer.
Other factors may play a role – it’s unclear whether the surgical patients made healthier lifestyle choices or the non-surgical patients were reluctant to participate in cancer screening. Few of the patients were not black or white, indicating a need for further research.