Breast Cancer & Bariatric Surgery
October is breast cancer awareness month, which means it’s time to dedicate some time to raising breast cancer awareness, reminding women to get a mammogram, and donating resources to breast cancer research.
As a bariatric supplement, support, and lifestyle company, ProCare Health would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the relationship between breast cancer and bariatric surgery.
As always, we are dedicated to providing up-to-date information founded on research and science to ensure our customers and followers are as well educated on bariatric surgery and a bariatric lifestyle as possible.
Please keep reading for more on breast cancer and how bariatric surgery can help you reduce your risk of it.
What Is Breast Cancer?
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer affects one in eight women and makes up 25.4% of all new cancer diagnoses in women. In the United States, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women.
Cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells that ultimately form a tumor(s). In this case, breast cancer is defined as the uncontrolled growth of breast cells.
Usually, healthy cells eventually die, but new, healthy cells are there to take their place. This cycle is controlled by the genes found in each cell. In cancer, some cells’ genes undergo a mutation that causes the cells to keep growing and dividing with no control or order. As more cells of this kind are produced, they eventually form a tumor.
While some tumors can be benign (not cancerous), others are malignant (cancerous). If left unchecked, malignant cells can spread beyond the tumor to other body parts.
Breast cancer is commonly caused by genetic abnormalities, whether they be inherited from your mother or father or due to the natural wear and tear associated with the aging process.
However, some conditions can increase your risk of developing these genetic abnormalities, such as being overweight or obese.
The Link Between Obesity & Breast Cancer
The high breast cancer incidence rate has led to extensive research on breast cancer causes and risk factors, which have consistently linked obesity to a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer.
Abe R et al. first reported the impact of obesity on breast cancer diagnosis and outcome in 1976. He found that obese women developed larger primary tumors, higher rates of lymphatic invasion, and worse survival rates compared to healthy-weight patients.
In fact, a meta-analysis shows that obese women diagnosed with breast cancer have a 33% higher risk of mortality than normal-weight women.
How Bariatric Surgery Reduces the Risk of Breast Cancer
According to www.ScienceDaily.com, in 2019, Cleveland Clinic Florida researchers presented a study at the 36th American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Annual Meeting, which said, “women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer were 2.5 times more likely to develop a malignancy than women with the same genetic risk who underwent bariatric or weight loss surgery.”
Overall, the study found an 18% incident rate of breast cancer in women with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. However, the incident rate for patients who had undergone weight loss surgery was 7.4%.
This outcome can be explained by the fact that having more fat tissue can increase the chances of developing breast cancer by raising estrogen levels, according to the American Cancer Society.
The Need for Accessible Healthcare
Unfortunately, access to adequate healthcare is not equal among all groups. Obesity disproportionately affects women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those of a lower-economic status. While these groups already face bias for their gender, race/ethnicity, and economic status, some medical providers also maintain a bias against obese individuals. These dangerous biases often cause obese women not to seek regular check-ups and cancer screenings.
It is also vital to point out that less than 1% of eligible bariatric patients are being referred for surgery, according to a 2022 review published in The Obesity Society’s flagship journal, Obesity.
With increasing rates of obesity worldwide, it is paramount that doctors are proactive about treatment to appropriately address the health concerns of obese individuals, including the necessary tests and treatment options for their weight and the risks associated with obesity.
You shouldn’t cut corners or take risks when it comes to your health. If you are concerned about your weight and its implications on your health, speak with a trusted healthcare professional. Advocate for yourself. If you feel you need a mammogram or any other testing, voice your concerns.
If you are new to the bariatric community or unsure of where to start on your bariatric journey, explore the ProCare Health website. We provide vitamins, supplements, educational resources, and a virtual support group to help you learn more about bariatric surgery and the changes you should expect in life after surgery.
For access to our support group and more educational content, please visit our Crowdcast Channel.