According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD), obesity is associated with an increased risk for 13 types of cancer, including breast cancer.
For individuals at high risk for developing breast cancer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and BMI is important for reducing the likelihood of developing the disease. In some situations, weight loss surgery may be a good option to help reduce the overall risk.
According to a new study presented by Cleveland Clinic Florida researchers at the 36th American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek 2019, weight loss surgery cut the overall risk of developing cancers linked to obesity by 20%. In fact, women with obesity and known genetic susceptibilities for breast cancer were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with the same genetic risk who underwent weight loss surgery.
“Our findings suggest bariatric surgery could significantly prevent the development of cancer in patients with a higher risk than the average population, even in those genetically predisposed,” said study co-author Emanuele Lo Menzo, MD, Ph.D., FASMBS, Associate Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program, Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “The effect we saw on patients genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer was remarkable and we believe this is the first time a study has shown such an impact. Further studies are needed to determine the factors, including weight loss, that may have led to such risk reduction.”
It is interesting to note that a similar study of patients with severe obesity (BMI of 35 or higher) published in Annals of Surgery earlier this year showed weight-loss surgery was associated with a 33% decrease in the risk of developing any type of cancer, and a 40% decrease in the risk of being diagnosed with a cancer associated with obesity.
It is important to remember, even individuals with a healthy BMI are still at risk for developing cancer. The importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is to reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer – unfortunately, it is NOT guaranteed prevention.
If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, you are not alone! In fact, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge for most adults today. The CDC reports more than 70% of American adults are overweight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also very important after breast cancer treatment to decrease the risk of a recurrence. However, add the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis and the side-effects of some treatments, losing weight after breast cancer is typically even harder. Weight loss surgery may therefore also be an option for some survivors to consider if all other options have been exhausted.
Most people know that calorie control and regular exercise are crucial in losing and maintaining weight, but few people realize 80% of weight loss is achieved through better food choices. Even when we think we’re doing well by choosing the salad, we don’t realize the dressing has more calories than a Big Mac! A consultation with a nutritionist or dietician is a very good place to start your weight loss journey, and can provide extremely useful guidance in planning healthier meals.