Possible new benefit of bariatric surgery: Less uterine cancer

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Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 1.11.44 PMBariatric surgery (weight-loss surgery) is widely acknowledged as an effective treatment for obesity, especially for individuals who fall into the extremely obese category those with a BMI (body mass index) over 40. And people whose obesity is thus ameliorated have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Now a preliminary study indicates that bariatric surgery is also associated with a reduced risk of uterine cancer when the weight loss achieved is maintained.

Dr. Kristy Ward of the University of California, San Diego, presented her data at a recent meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. She and colleagues performed a retrospective study of obese women who underwent bariatric surgery and maintained their weight loss. Compared to obese women who had not had surgery, the successful losers had a 71 percent lower risk of uterine cancer.

The investigators reviewed admission records in a nationwide database from January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013, finding about 104,000 women with a history of bariatric surgery and about 44,000 cases of uterine cancer (a total of about 7.4 million admissions were examined). Overall, they found that non-obese women who had had bariatric surgery had the lowest rate of uterine cancer 270 per 100,000 admissions, even lower than that of non-obese women who had not had the surgery (496 per 100,000 admissions).

They then calculated the risk of uterine cancer among the different groups and found the risk was lowest in non-obese women with no history of bariatric surgery (0.19) and second lowest in formerly obese women who had had the surgery (0.29).

As quoted in MedPage Today, Dr. Ward had this comment: "Our previous work, in agreement with the findings of others, has indicated that the risk of uterine malignancy increases linearly with BMI. Along with the findings of this current study, this supports that obesity may be a modifiable risk factor related to development of endometrial cancer."

ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan commented, Although this is clearly a preliminary, descriptive study, and thus can t prove a causal link, if it is independently replicated it would provide another strong impetus for obese women to lose weight by bariatric surgery if other means are not effective.