Jay Michael Snow, MD

Bariatric Surgery Decreases Cancer Risk

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We know there are many social and aesthetic benefits of losing weight, but living a longer, healthier life is the top priority of many of our patients. The clinical team at St. Louis Bariatrics cares about the overall health of patients and strives to support our patients in both clinical care and lifestyle support.

Obesity Identified As A Leading Factor In Many Cancers

When it comes to cancer, obesity is second to smoking as a preventable cause. In fact, obesity is a leading factor in the development of roughly 40% of cancers including endometrial, breast, kidney, colorectal, pancreatic, and liver cancers, among others.1

Obesity is a highly prevalent condition among the U.S. population, and individuals with morbid obesity (BMI ≥40) can often find interventions in lifestyle, such as diet and exercise, prohibitively challenging. Alternatively, these individuals may find that diet and exercise alone are not enough to get them to a healthy weight.

How Obesity Promotes Cancer

Obesity accelerates the development of cancer in several ways. Excess adipose tissue, or body fat, contributes to the increased circulation of the molecules that facilitate the function of metabolic status in the body. However, these molecules can also stimulate tumor growth. In addition, obesity and corresponding obesogenic diets can also create changes in intestinal microbiota, which may contribute to metabolites that promote the growth of tumors. Finally, obesity has been shown to stimulate epigenetic changes that can foster cancer promoting effects.2,3

Bariatric Surgery Can Mitigate Cancer Risk

For bariatric patients who fail to lose weight, bariatric surgery is an effective strategy to treat morbid obesity or obesity with associated co-morbidities along with the implementation of an exercise program and medically supervised diet.

In addition to a range of benefits including long-term remission for type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health, and pain relief, bariatric surgery also demonstrates a decrease in cancer risk, most commonly in post-menopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancers.4,5,6,7

While bariatric surgery is not recommended solely as a cancer prevention strategy, the potentially beneficial effects cannot be ignored.

Learn More About Bariatric Surgery

If you would like to know more about how bariatric surgery can reduce your risk of cancer or would like to find out if you’re a candidate for weight loss surgery, please contact us today.


1 Annals of Translational Medicine. Impact of bariatric surgery on cancer risk reduction. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7154324/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
2 Cell Metabolism. Obesity, rather than diet, drives epigenomics alterations in colonic epithelium resembling cancer progression. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050048/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
3 Cancer Prevention Research. Targeting Epigenetics to Prevent Obesity Promoted Cancers. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29476043/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
4 Annals of Surgery. Gastric Bypass Surgery Leads to Long-term Remission or Improvement of Type 2 Diabetes and Significant Decrease of Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26599565/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
5 Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Cardiovascular Disease: A Concise Update of Recent Advances. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6635807/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
6 NIHR Journals Library. Costs and outcomes of increasing access to bariatric surgery for obesity: cohort study and cost-effectiveness analysis using electronic health records. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK362435/. Accessed January 4, 2022.
7 Cleveland Clinic. Bariatric Surgery for Treating Sleep Apnea. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/-/scassets/files/org/bariatric/guides/sleep-apnea-brochure.ashx?la=en&_ga=2.118776393.1742105752.1641329588-2085452721.1636051846&_gl=1*dmbweb*_ga*MjA4NTQ1MjcyMS4xNjM2MDUxODQ2*_ga_HWJ092SPKP*MTY0MTMyOTU4OC41LjEuMTY0MTMyOTg5NS4w#:~:text=Bariatric%20surgery%20is%20the%20most,completely%20resolve%20their%20sleep%20apnea. Accessed January 4, 2022.

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