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Does Bariatric Surgery Reduces The Risk Of Cancer?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. B N Shukla 86% (33 ratings)
Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, Fellowship in Bariatric Surgery, M.S.
Bariatrician, Lucknow  •  10 years experience
Does Bariatric Surgery Reduces The Risk Of Cancer?

Obesity can make life miserable. From unhealthy eating habits to unhealthy lifestyles and medical conditions, obesity can be an amalgamation of many factors. Obese people are a greater risk of suffering from many serious health complications like type 2 diabetes, mood swings, and depression, cardiac problems, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name a few. It does not stop there. More alarming is the fact that obese people are an increased risk of suffering from different types of cancer.

Bariatric surgery comes as a saviour for highly obese people (with a BMI over 40), who have tried every possible treatment under the sun to lose weight without any success. Bariatric surgery has helped many severely obese people attain a healthy weight. Bariatric surgery can be of three types;

  1. Gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y): This is one of the most common types of weight-loss surgery practised worldwide. The procedure involves rearranging (dividing) the stomach into a smaller upper pouch and a larger lower part. The smaller pouch is then connected to the small intestine. The food consumed will pass into the small intestine through the pouch. The idea is to rearrange the stomach in such a way that a person consumes a lesser quantity of food.
  2. Gastric banding (Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band): In this procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch at the upper part of the stomach by placing a band (lap band or A-band) around it. The pouch, true to its name, is used to hold the food consumed. The purpose of placing a band around the stomach (upper part) is to reduce the intake of food.
  3. Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric Sleeve surgery): In Sleeve Gastrectomy, surgeons remove a large portion of the stomach, leaving behind only a small sleeve-like pouch (hence the name). Like the other two surgeries, sleeve gastrectomy also aids in limiting the consumption of food.
  4. Duodenal switch: The fourth type of bariatric surgery, Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion, is not very commonly used. Bariatric surgery has several health benefits. In addition to the weight loss, it plays a pivotal role in lowering the incidences of Type-2 Diabetes, depression, anxiety, coronary artery problems, sleep apnea cardiovascular diseases.

Research also suggest that bariatric surgery has been instrumental in reducing the chances of cancer (especially colon and breast cancer) by as much as 60%. The correlation between weight loss and reduced cancer instances is still a debatable topic. Some researchers and oncologists believe that the weight loss (bariatric surgery) brings about a hormonal modification which prevents the growth of tumour cells. Another study links obesity with an increased inflammation. In many cases, inflammation acts as a catalyst, accelerating the growth of cancer cells. Research is still going on to understand this correlation (obesity and reduced cancer rates) better.

Bariatric surgery has its share of risks and demerits. Consult your physician and get yourself thoroughly examined before opting for the surgery. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a bariatrician.

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