Weight loss with bariatric surgery reduces the risk of developing cancer and dying from cancer

Friday, June 3, 2022, CLEVELAND: A Cleveland Clinic study shows that in obese adults, weight loss achieved through bariatric surgery was associated with a 32% lower risk of developing cancer and a 48% higher risk low cancer-related death rate compared to adults who have not had surgery. The research is published by JAMA.

Approximately 42% of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity increases the risk of developing 13 types of cancer which account for 40% of all cancers diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

Ali Aminian, MDlead study author and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, said bariatric surgery is currently the most effective treatment for obesity. “Patients can lose 20-40% of their body weight after surgery, and the weight loss can be sustained for decades. The striking results of this study indicate that the greater the weight loss, the lower the risk of cancer,” said Dr. Aminian.

The SPLENDID (Surgical Procedures and Long-term Effectiveness in Neoplastic Disease Incidence and Death) research is a matched cohort study that included more than 30,000 patients from the Cleveland Clinic. A group of 5,053 obese adult patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2004 and 2017 were matched 1:5 to a control group of 25,265 patients who did not have surgery for their obesity.

After 10 years, 2.9% of patients in the bariatric surgery group and 4.9% of patients in the non-surgical group developed cancer associated with obesity. The International Agency for Research on Cancer describes 13 types of cancer as cancers associated with obesity, such as endometrial cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and cancers of the colon, liver, pancreas, ovaries and thyroid.

After 10 years, 0.8% of patients in the surgery group and 1.4% of patients in the non-surgical group died of cancer. These results indicate that bariatric surgery is associated with a 48% reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.

The researchers noted that the benefits of bariatric surgery were seen in a wide range of study participants, including women and men, young and elderly patients, as well as black and white patients. Additionally, benefits were similarly observed after gastric bypass and gastric sleeve operations.

“According to American Cancer Societyobesity is the second most preventable cause of cancer in the United States after tobacco,” said the study’s lead author, Steven Nissen, MDacademic director of the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute. “This study provides the best possible evidence on the value of intentional weight loss in reducing cancer risk and mortality.”

Many studies have shown the health benefits of bariatric surgery or weight loss in obese patients. The Cleveland Clinic run DISBANDADE A study has shown that after bariatric surgery, significant weight loss and control of type 2 diabetes last over time. The SPLENDOR A study has shown that in patients with fatty liver disease, bariatric surgery decreases the risk of liver disease progression and serious heart complications.

The SPLENDID study adds important findings to the literature focused on the link between obesity and cancer. Given the growing obesity epidemic worldwide, these findings have significant implications for public health.

“Based on the magnitude of the benefits demonstrated in our study, weight loss surgery may be considered in addition to other interventions that may help prevent cancer and reduce mortality,” said James Abraham, MD., chairman of the department of hematology and medical oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. “Further research needs to be conducted to understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the reduction in cancer risk after bariatric surgery.”

About the Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision to provide exceptional patient care based on the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. The Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. US News & World Report consistently names the Cleveland Clinic as one of the best hospitals in the nation in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. The Cleveland Clinic’s 72,500 employees worldwide include more than 5,050 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,800 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 22 hospitals, more than 220 ambulatory care facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2021, there were 10.2 million total outpatient visits, 304,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 259,000 surgical cases across the Cleveland Clinic health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. follow us on twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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