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June 24, 2009

Stomach-Stapling Linked To Lower Cancer Risk In Women

New evidence suggests that obese women could lower their risk of cancer over 40 percent by undergoing weight-loss operations that involve stapling the stomach or small intestine.

However, researchers failed to find the same results among men who received so-called bariatric surgery.

Researchers were previously unable to determine whether or not weight-loss surgery would aid in cancer prevention. It has been known that obesity can cause a higher incidence of cancer because fat cells produce the hormones that can result in the development of cancer.

Writing in the medical journal Lancet Oncology, Lars Sjostrom, of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues, monitored 2,010 obese patients for about 10 years from 1987 following bariatric surgery. Researchers defined obese as a body mass index above 34 in men and above 38 in women.

Also, researchers studied 2,037 obese people who did not undergo bariatric surgery.

Overall, researchers found that 79 of the women who had the surgery got cancer, while 130 women who didn't receive surgery developed the disease.

"There is an unknown factor behind this effect, but we have no idea what it is," said Sjostrom.

They also found that 38 of the men who had the surgery got cancer, while 39 men who didn't receive surgery developed the disease. Sjostrom said this figure could have been influenced by the fact that men only accounted for about one-fourth of the total number of participants.

"This is one more piece of evidence in a complex puzzle," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society, told the Associated Press.

"There seems to be a relationship between weight and cancer, but there is a missing link we don't understand."

In another study reported on Tuesday, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that obesity during early adulthood could be linked to a higher likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Donghui Li, professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, said the study was the first to "explore at which ages excess body weight predisposes an individual to pancreatic cancer."

"With our epidemiological research, we aimed to demonstrate the relationship between BMI and risk of pancreatic cancer across a patient's life span and determine if there was a time period that specifically predisposes an individual to the disease, as well as the link between BMI and cancer occurrence and overall survival of the disease."

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death among Americans, according to the American Cancer Society. In 2009, the ACS expects more than 42,470 people will be diagnosed with the disease, while 35,240 will die as a result.

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