Does weight loss protect women from uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer endangers the lives of many women worldwide. Surgical weight loss surgery could help obese women significantly reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer.
Researchers at the University of Manchester found that weight loss surgery can protect overweight women from uterine cancer. The physicians published the results of their study in the International Journal of Cancer.
Uterine cancer can be caused by obesity
The experts found that the so-called precancerous tissue in the womb of women who received a gastric tube or bypass surgery to treat obesity returned to normal tissue after they lost weight. Doctors have long known that uterine cancer can be caused by obesity, but so far the effect of slimming on precancerous changes in the womb has not been adequately studied.
72 women took part in the study
Seventy-two women with an average BMI above 50 had biopsies taken during weight loss surgery. Four women were diagnosed with uterine cancer, which was then treated with a hysterectomy. Another six patients had atypical endometrial hyperplasia, a precancerous disease that causes the growth of cells in the womb.
What was the effect of weight loss?
Of the six women with endometrial hyperplasia, three did not show any signs of the disease after weight loss when they were re-examined after eight weeks. The remaining three women were treated with a Mirena spiral, which releases the hormone progesterone in the uterus and reverses precancerous changes. Two of them were found to be free of this disease after six months. Controls over four years showed that the precancerous tissue did not return in these five women. The remaining 62 women had normal uterine tissue at the time of weight loss surgery, but there was a high risk of an abnormality. Twelve months after the surgery, when the women had lost about 45 kg of weight, the increased risk was no longer evident.
Risk of uterine cancer greatly increased in obese women
It is known that highly obese women have a much higher risk of uterine cancer than normal-weight women. But doctors did not expect such a high proportion of women treated for obesity to suffer from uterine cancer and dangerous signs of cancer without even knowing it. Thanks to this study, it is now known that supporting overweight women to lose weight can reverse precancerous tissue changes, the researchers emphasize.
Weight loss surgery can have several advantages
It is clear that for heavily overweight women, rapid access to weight loss surgery can bring benefits to improving diabetes and the risk of heart disease, and in addition, it also reduces the risk of uterine cancer, the scientists explain. Losing weight through a diet is probably also effective, but it is known that a diet is very difficult for many people to maintain. Often lost weight is quickly regained.
Lack of progesterone allows cells to grow in the womb
Overweight postmenopausal women produce estrogen from their fat reserves. However, since they no longer ovulate, the lack of progesterone allows the cells in the womb to grow, which increases the risk of cancer, the authors say. Inflammatory reactions and insulin production also change in overweight women and can cause cells in the womb to grow. Since the reversal of precancerous changes in the womb was so rapid, doctors believe that the metabolic consequences of weight loss are crucial.