Undergoing bariatric surgery to combat obesity can prevent women from developing womb cancer also known as uterine or endometrial cancer, claims a study.
The findings, led by scientists from the University of Manchester, showed that women who had gastric sleeve or bypass surgery for obesity found that precancerous tissue in their womb reverted to normal tissue when they lost weight.
“For super obese women, quick access to weight loss surgery has benefits beyond improving diabetes and risk of heart disease. It can also reduce womb cancer risk,” said Emma Crosbie, clinical senior lecturer from Manchester.
“Losing weight through dieting is also likely to be effective, but we know that dieting is very hard to do and weight lost is often re-gained,” she said.
In the study, published in International journal of Cancer, the team examined nearly 100 women with an average BMI of over 50 — considered to be super obese — had biopsies taken from their wombs during gastric sleeve or bypass surgery.
Obese post-menopausal women produce oestrogen from their fat stores. But as they no longer ovulate, the lack of progesterone allows the cells in the womb to grow, which increases the risk of cancer.
Inflammatory responses and insulin production are also changed in obese women and can cause cells in the womb to grow.
“Because the reversal of precancerous changes in the womb was so quick, we think the metabolic consequences of weight loss surgery was crucial,” said Crosbie.
However, the researchers stressed that the surgical option was not for everyone, because it was no an easy choice.
“It changes your relationship with food forever, as you’ll be eating smaller meals more frequently, and it is important to remember that surgery can be a hazardous procedure,” said Crosbie.
“But for those that choose it, gastric sleeve or bypass surgery can now be seen as a preventative measure for womb cancer.”