158000030We know being overweight can increase risk for a range of conditions, but could weight loss surgery stop you from getting breast cancer?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Here at Weight Loss Surgery Mexico we took a look at the studies and research into whether weight loss surgery can make a woman less likely to develop breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with more than a million women across the globe diagnosed with the disease each year, usually in those aged 50 and over. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for health professionals around the world to highlight the risks of the disease and to encourage individuals to consider ways in which they can reduce their breast cancer risks.

Weight and Breast Cancer: The Link

The link between weight and breast cancer is a complex one; women who gain weight later in life appear to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who have been overweight since childhood. Excess weight around the belly may carry a higher cancer risk than the same weight that is distributed around the legs and hips. This could be because there is a slight difference in the fat cells in different parts of the body.

If a woman is overweight after she reaches menopause, her risk of developing breast cancer is higher than a post-menopausal woman who is of a normal weight.  This is because, after menopause the ovaries stop producing estrogen. This means that most of a woman’s estrogen post-menopause is produced by fat cells. If a woman has more fatty tissue, estrogen levels are raised, which will make her more likely to develop breast cancer. In addition, women who are overweight tend to have raised insulin levels, which are linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.

Weight Loss Surgery And Breast Cancer

By studying weight loss surgery patients, researchers have been able to examine whether reduced cancer risks are amongst the many benefits of weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery, lap band surgery and gastric sleeve surgery. Evidence shows that women who have successful weight loss surgery are less likely to develop cancer and, if they do develop the disease, they are less likely to die from it. One study found that women who had undergone weight loss surgery reduced their breast cancer risk by 83%.

The reduced breast cancer risks that arise from weight loss surgery can be attributed to a range of factors:

  • Individuals who have weight loss surgery lose large amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time; this could lead to more dramatic changes in cellular composition and health than slower, more gradual weight loss.
  • Weight loss surgery brings about physical and biochemical changes in the body. These could contribute to reduced cancer risks, on top of the loss of fatty tissue.

Whilst there is little doubt that weight loss surgery significantly reduces the risk of cancer, including breast cancer, any sustained weight loss that is kept off for 4 years or more after menopause is thought to reduce cancer risks.

Whilst research into weight loss, weight loss surgery and breast cancer is ongoing, it is undisputed that stopping weight gain and, where possible, losing weight will reduce your risk of developing cancer.

There are many health and emotional benefits to losing weight. But if you are obese, it can seem a daunting challenge. Weight loss surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. However, for many people weight loss surgery is the best option to help a person to get back on track, to regain their health, their life and their happiness.

If you would like to find out more about the extensive range of weight loss surgery procedures that we have available from our award winning bariatric team, get in touch for a free consultation with one of our US based, qualified case managers.