A small study has found that weight-loss surgery may have reduced the risk of endometrial cancer in obese women. The surgery reduced the participants' weight by a third and eliminated precancerous uterine growths in the women who had such growths. It also improved their insulin levels and ability to use glucose, which may reduce their risk for diabetes.
The study looked at 71 women with a mean age of 44.2 years and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 50.9. A BMI of 40 in women is usually considered morbid obesity and is typically about 100 pounds over a woman's ideal body weight.
A total of 68 participants underwent weight loss surgery. Two chose not to have surgery and one died of a heart condition prior to surgery. The women who had the surgery averaged a loss of more than 100 pounds.
Thirty women had biopsies done of the lining of their uterus. Ten percent of these women had precancerous changes in the lining of their uterus. In these women, the growths resolved with weight loss.
However, two of the limitations of this study are its small size and its length of only 2 to 3 years. "We're talking about small numbers, really tiny numbers" of study participants, said Susan C. Modesitt, MD, of the University of Virginia Cancer Center, and lead author of the study. "So I could never say that effect is definitive, but it is suggestive, given that we know already the incredibly strong link between endometrial cancer and obesity."
"When you're looking at obesity-related cancers, the biggest one is endometrial cancer, but also colon cancer, breast cancer, renal cancer and gall bladder cancer. We think about 40 to 50% of all endometrial cancer, which is in the lining of the uterus, is caused by obesity," Modesitt said in a statement.
Another interesting finding of the study was an alteration in the gut bacteria of the participants, Modesitt said.
The study was published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.