Bariatric Surgery Significantly Reduces Risk of Uterine Cancer

Obese Woman in Purple OutfitBariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, refers to a number of surgical procedures that help obese individuals lose weight. Now a new study published the journal Gynecologic Oncology finds that the weight loss following bariatric surgery significantly reduces the risk of uterine cancer in women.

Uterine cancer, or endometrial cancer, is cancer that begins in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (womb). Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women. The risk of developing uterine cancer increases with age, especially among women who have experience menopause.

Obesity is also a risk factor for uterine cancer. Obesity causes chronic inflammation, which increases insulin resistance and increases estrogen levels. Most endometrial cancers are driven by estrogen.

Explains Dr. Kristy Ward, senior gynecologic oncology fellow in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine:

“In a normal menstruating woman, two hormones control the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus). Estrogen builds up the endometrium and progesterone stabilizes it. A woman with excess adipose tissue has an increased level of estrogen because the fat tissue converts steroid hormones into a form of estrogen.”

Among obese women, too much estrogen causes the endometrium to further build up without enough progesterone for stabilization.

Obese women are therefore at an increased risk for uterine cancer. Using the University Health System Consortium database, the researchers identified 103,797 patients with a history of bariatric surgery including 44,345 with a diagnosis of uterine malignancy. Explains Dr. Ward:

“Estimating from various studies that looked at increasing body mass index (BMI) and endometrial cancer risk, a woman with a BMI of 40 would have approximately eight times greater risk of endometrial cancer than someone with a BMI of 25.”

However, the present study found that bariatric surgery decreases the risk of uterine cancer by up to 81 percent. The general reduction in risk is 71 percent while women who maintain the weight loss see a reduction of 81 percent.

In other words, obesity increases the risk of uterine cancer, but bariatric surgery can decrease the risk of uterine cancer by as much as 81 percent in women who keep the lost weight off.

Concludes Dr. Ward:

“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.”

Obese women should consult with a health care provider about a weight loss program, which may include bariatric surgery.


Bariatric surgery decreases risk of uterine cancer:–bsd031914.php
Uterine cancer risks decrease by 81% with bariatric surgery:

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