Bariatric Surgery May Cut Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers by More Than Half

Bariatric Surgery May Cut Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers by More Than Half

CHICAGO, IL (April 28, 2023) — Just 4% of patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery developed obesity-associated cancer in a 10-year follow up, compared to 8.9% among those who did not have a weight-loss procedure, according to a study to be presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2023.

“The primary benefit people consider when they think about bariatric surgery is weight loss and the accompanying physical and psychological benefits, such as improved blood pressure and diabetes,” said Dr. Vibhu Chittajallu, the study’s lead author and a gastroenterology fellow at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals. “This study adds to the building evidence that the significant weight loss associated with bariatric surgery may have a protective effect against cancer formation as well.”

The study analyzed records of more than 55,700 patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery, comparing them with the same number of similar patients who did not have surgery. Researchers included patients who had sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass or gastric band procedures, and they controlled for risk factors that play a role in cancer formation, such as smoking history, alcohol use, heart disease, hormone therapies and other comorbidities.

In 10 years of follow up, the number of patients who developed obesity-associated cancers was 2,206 among those who underwent bariatric surgery, compared to 4,960 among those who did not have surgery.

The bariatric surgery cohort had consistently lower numbers of new cases for virtually all types of obesity-related cancer, including breast (501 vs. 751), colon (201 vs. 360), liver (969 vs. 2,198), pancreas (54 vs. 86), ovarian (130 vs. 214) and thyroid (154 vs. 175).

“We need more research to understand how bariatric surgery affects cancer risk, but the significant findings from this study suggest it’s an exciting avenue for further study,” Dr. Chittajallu said.

DDW Presentation Details

Dr. Chittajallu will present data from the study, “Bariatric surgery decreases the risk of developing cancer: a multicenter population-based study,” abstract 443, on Sunday, May 7, at 11:14 a.m. CDT.  For more information about featured studies, as well as a schedule of availability for featured researchers, please visit


Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place May 6 – 9 in Chicago and virtually. The meeting showcases more than 3,500 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at