A recent literature review published in the journal of Cancer and Metastasis Reviews attempted to look at various research studies and determine what the prevailing literature says about the links between obesity and breast cancer as well as how weight loss surgery affects the prevalence of breast cancer.
According to research, a number of cancers are more prevalent among obese patients. The review conducted in this article looked specifically at breast cancer, as breast cancer is the most common cancer and second most common cause of cancer death in women. Because of the high prevalence of breast cancer among women, researchers are giving additional attention to the factors, such as obesity, that increase the chances a woman may develop breast cancer.
While there are many factors that contribute to breast cancer and the obesity link is complex, the researchers cite many studies that show the link between obesity and breast cancer, stating " In breast cancer patients, women with increased BMI have a higher risk of invasion, distant metastases, tumor recurrence, impaired delivery of systemic therapies, and mortality. Thus, obesity represents a modifiable risk factor and is a target for cancer prevention measures and to improve cancer outcomes (Bohm, MS, 2022).
In Bohm's article, the author notes that obesity is one of the few risks of breast cancer that can be changed and the decline in risk is most prominent in postmenopausal women who maintain a weight loss greater than 5%. For individuals who make long term lifestyle changes that result in long term weight loss, including dietary and exercise changes, cancer rates are reduced. The author also notes that the most effective solution for long term, sustained weight loss is bariatric surgery. There are a variety of bariatric surgeries available, therefore patients and their doctors can make the best determination of which surgery is best suited for the individual. Here at Ultimate Bariatrics, we work with our patients to find what procedure is best for them and will lead them to the healthiest and most sustainable outcome. Regardless of the procedure chosen, according to the research, more patients see results with bariatric surgery than with lifestyle changes alone.
"Regarding breast cancer specifically, bariatric surgery reduced breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women compared to non-surgical controls, with the most significant impact on risk reduction in ER-negative tumors, with a 64% decrease in risk. Moderate declines in ER-positive and HER2-positive breast cancer rates were reported. An additional benefit to bariatric surgery is that subsequent cancers appear less aggressive or detected earlier" (Bohm, MS, 2022)
Bariatric surgery also leads to a decrease in all causes of mortality from obesity-related diseases. Specifically referencing cancers, the author notes that historically, more women have undergone bariatric surgery than men, and therefore, we currently see more of a correlation between decreasing cancer rates in women than we do in men. However, with more men undergoing bariatric surgery now, and more research being conducted, we should see more research in the coming years on how cancer rates are impacted by weight loss surgery.
If you have any questions about bariatric surgery and how weight loss may affect your risk of cancer or other diseases, please do not hesitate to reach out for a consultation.
To read Bohm's literature review in full, you can find it here: https://rdcu.be/cT4Zn
Citation: Bohm, M.S., Sipe, L.M., Pye, M.E. et al. The role of obesity and bariatric surgery-induced weight loss in breast cancer. Cancer Metastasis Rev (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10555-022-10050-6