This site is intended for health professionals only

Weight loss surgery "cuts women's cancer risk"

Obese women who undergo weight loss surgery such as stomach stapling could see their cancer risk reduced by as much as 42%, according to new research.

Scientists in Sweden analysed data relating to just over 2,000 patients who had undergone operations to reduce their weight.

Comparing their results with a similar-sized group of obese patients given standard treatment, such as nutritional advice, the researchers found that female patients who had surgery were 42% less likely to develop cancer. However, in men, there was no change to the incidence of cancer.

The patients were monitored for an average of just over a decade, with the study revealing no link between the lowered incidence of cancer and the patients' weight loss or reduced calorie intake.

Commenting on the study, published in The Lancet Oncology, Dr Andrew G Renehan of the University of Manchester's School of Cancer said: "For women, the greatest cancer prevention effects from weight reduction are likely to be for post-menopausal breast and endometrial cancers, two hormone-sensitive malignancies, the effects of which might manifest within a decade.

"By contrast, the effects of weight reversal might take much longer to become apparent for other obesity-related cancers, such as colon, rectal, and kidney cancers, which are numerically more common in men."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

The Lancet Oncology