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Does Weight Loss Protect Women From Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer threatens the lives of many women worldwide. Weight loss surgery could help significantly reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer in overweight women.
Researchers at the University of Manchester found that weight loss surgery can protect overweight women from uterine cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "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 had received a gastric sleeve or bypass surgery to treat obesity reverted to normal tissue after they lost weight. Doctors have long known that uterine cancer can be caused by obesity, but until now the effect of losing weight on precancerous changes in the womb has been insufficiently studied.
72 women participated in the study
Seventy-two women with an average BMI of over 50 were biopsied during weight loss surgery. Four women were diagnosed with uterine cancer, which was then treated by a so-called hysterectomy. Another six patients had atypical endometrial hyperplasia, a precancerous condition that causes cells in the womb to grow.
What did weight loss do?
Of the six women with endometrial hyperplasia, three had no signs of the disease after weight loss when examined again after eight weeks. The remaining three women were treated with a Mirena coil, which releases the hormone progesterone in the uterus and reverses precancerous changes. Two of them were found to be free of the 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 operation, when the women had lost about 45 kg, the increased risk could no longer be determined.
Risk of uterine cancer is greatly increased in obese women
It is known that obese women are much more at risk of developing uterine cancer than women of normal weight. But the medical community did not expect such a high proportion of women who were treated for obesity to suffer from uterine cancer and dangerous preconceptions of cancer without even knowing about it. Thanks to this study, it is now known that helping overweight women lose weight can reverse precancerous tissue changes, the researchers emphasize.
Weight loss surgery can have several benefits
It is clear that quick access to weight loss surgery can have benefits for diabetes and the risk of heart disease for overweight women, and the risk of uterine cancer is also reduced, the scientists explain. Losing weight through a diet is likely to be effective, but it is known that dieting is very difficult for many people to maintain. Often lost weight is quickly regained.
Absence of progesterone causes cells to grow in the womb
Obese postmenopausal women produce estrogen from their fat reserves. However, since they no longer ovulate, the lack of progesterone causes the cells in the womb to grow, which then increases the risk of cancer, the authors say. Inflammatory reactions and insulin production also change in overweight women and can cause cells to grow in the womb. With the reversal of precancerous changes in the womb becoming so rapid, physicians think that the metabolic consequences of weight loss are critical. (as)