Bariatric Surgery May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk by Half

Results of studies show that women with obesity who get these weight loss procedures often also have preventative benefits.

Women who are obese who undergo bariatric surgery could reduce their risk of breast cancer by half, according to a review of various studies.

The review aims to clarify the relationship between breast cancer and obesity and explore the potential role of bariatric surgery to reduce this risk.

“Our review highlights recent publications linking bariatric surgery to decreased breast cancer incidence, discusses possible consequences of bariatric surgery on breast cancer screening, and finally proposes bariatric surgery as a potential preventative and adjuvant therapy for breast cancer,” Andrea M. Stroud, MD, MS, from the department of surgery at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, said in a statement.

In 1 study, investigators included a large number of individuals with incidence of female-specific cancers, such as breast, endometrial, and ovarian, from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database.

They matched 55,781 individuals who underwent bariatric surgery with 247,102 individuals who did not. The study results showed that the incidence of breast cancer was about 15% lower in the surgical group compared with individuals who did not have bariatric surgery.

The results of additional meta-analyses and reviews yielded similar results. In pooled results from a total of 11 studies, totaling more than 1 million individuals, the findings showed that bariatric surgery reduced the risk of breast cancer by approximately 50%.

Furthermore, the risk reduction was pre-dominant in higher-stage groups, and individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery were more likely to have early-stage cancer, and therefore, had better outcomes and survival.

The investigators of the pooled analysis said that earlier-stage disease in surgical groups could suggest that women in bariatric surgery programs could receive more preventative health screenings.

Additionally, women who are obese are less likely to undergo screening mammography, which can help identify cancer at earlier stages.

In another analysis of 8 studies, bariatric surgery reduced the incidence of breast cancer by approximately 44%.

The results of a systemic review of 7 studies showed that, in the cases of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers, bariatric surgery reduced the risk of breast cancer was reduced by approximately 49%.

The study results suggest that women with obesity who undergo bariatric surgery could reduce their risk of breast cancer by half.

Additionally, this review of all the studies explores the therapeutic potential of bariatric surgery, as it may provide both prophylactic and adjuvant therapy for women with obesity who are at higher risk for breast cancer and worse breast cancer outcomes.

Increased awareness of this treatment option is necessary, especially with less than 1% of eligible individuals being referred for surgery, investigators said.

Furthermore, future treatment of these overlapping diseases should focus on identifying individuals who are at an increased risk, evidence-based screening recommendations, and counseling around weight management options.

The underlying mechanism of reduced breast cancer risk after bariatric surgery remains an unanswered question, meaning that further studying is needed to better understand the role of bariatric surgery in the prevention and treatment of cancer, investigators said.

The review will be published in the March 2022 issue of Obesity, The Obesity Society’s journal.

Reference

Studies reinforce link using bariatric surgery to reduce obesity-associated breast cancer. EurekAlert. News release. February 23, 2022. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/943906