California researchers investigating potential links between obesity and other health conditions have discovered that weight loss after bariatric surgery can decrease the risk of endometrial cancer. The amount of reduction can reach a stunning 81 percent.
Scientists from the University of California-San Diego and the Moores Cancer Center analyzed data from a retrospective study of more than 7 million patients, according to Medical News Today. Their findings appeared in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.
Data from the National Cancer Institute suggested an estimated 49,560 new cases of endometrial cancer, or cancer of the uterus, in 2013, some 3.0 percent of new cancer cases. Estimated deaths were 8,190. The five-year survival rate is 81.5 percent. At some point, 2.7 percent of American women will receive a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. Risk increases with age.
Bariatric surgery, an option for adults and some youths, is a treatment for severe obesity. According to the Weight-control Information Network, an adult with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 is severely obese. Someone with a BMI of at least 35 is in that category if a serious health issue related to obesity is also present. Options for U.S. patients include four distinct types of surgery that cause the patient to consume fewer calories.
The California scientists noted that two out of every three American adults are obese or overweight. Based on the association of obesity with health risks like heart disease and endometrial cancer, they decided to investigate these relationships by reviewing patient records from the University HealthSystem Consortium.
They found 103,797 patients who had undergone bariatric surgery and 44,345 who had been diagnosed with cancer of the uterus. First Author Dr. Kristy Ward noted that the team discovered that a woman who had a BMI of 40 had a risk of developing endometrial cancer around eight times greater than a patient whose BMI was 25.
When women underwent bariatric surgery and achieved a dramatic weight loss, the risk of uterine cancer dropped by at least 71 percent and up to 81 percent when the patient maintained a normal weight. These findings suggest that obesity could be a risk factor for endometrial cancer that can be modified.
In analyzing the link between this type of malignancy and extra weight, the researchers noted that extra fat tissue elevates levels of estrogen, which has been linked to developing tumors. Being obese also results in chronic inflammation, which can increase both insulin resistance and estrogen levels. An excess of estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to grow. It can change into abnormal tissue that develops into cancer.
Bariatric surgery normalizes a woman’s hormone levels, which cuts insulin resistance. While this type of surgery might dramatically reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, the scientists say that obese and overweight patients should first receive weight-loss counseling.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.