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Bariatric Surgery Lowers Uterine Cancer Risk

Update Date: Mar 22, 2014 10:48 AM EDT

Bariatric surgery encompasses a wide array of weight loss procedures. For morbidly obese people that cannot lose weight on their own and have many other health risks, bariatric surgery can save their lives. Now, according to a new study, bariatric surgery might provide another benefit. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center discovered that bariatric surgery is tied to a reduced risk of uterine cancer.

The researchers examined a cohort study that included data on 7,431,858 patients taken from the University HealthSystem Consortium database. This database collects and combines medical information provided from contributing academic medical centers throughout the Unites States and other affiliated hospitals. Out of this sample, 103,797 people had a history of bariatric surgery and 44,345 people had uterine cancer.

The researchers discovered that patients who underwent bariatric surgery experienced a 71 percent reduced risk of developing uterine (endometrial) cancer. If the patients were able to keep off the weight and maintain a normal one after the surgery, their cancer risk was reduced by as much as 81 percent. The researchers reasoned that obesity could be a risk factor for uterine cancer.

"Estimating from various studies that looked at increasing BMI and endometrial cancer risk, a woman with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 would have approximately eight times greater risk of endometrial cancer than someone with a BMI of 25," said first author Kristy Ward, MD, the senior gynecologic oncology fellow in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "This risk likely continues to go up as BMI goes up."

Ward added, reported by a press release, "The obesity epidemic is a complicated problem. Further work is needed to define the role of bariatric surgery in cancer care and prevention, but we know that women with endometrial cancer are more likely to die of cardiovascular causes than they are of endometrial cancer. It's clear that patients who are overweight and obese should be counseled about weight loss, and referral to a bariatric program should be considered in patients who meet criteria."

The study was published in Gynecologic Oncology.

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