Diabetes and Obesity: Bariatric Surgery Reduces the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

For people with diabetes and obesity, bariatric surgery significantly reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer.


Pancreas Image Courtesy of Blausen Medical

Researchers have analyzed 1,435,350 patients with concurrent diabetes and obesity over a period of 20 years. A total of 10,620 participants, mostly women, underwent bariatric surgery, an operation that helps patients lose weight by altering their digestive system.

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Chronic inflammation

Studies have shown that patients with diabetes and obesity are significantly less likely to develop pancreatic cancer after bariatric surgery.

Dr. Aslam Syed, the lead investigator, added: “Obesity and diabetes are known causes of pancreatic cancer, through chronic inflammation, excess hormones and growth factors released from body fat. In the past, bariatric surgery has been shown to lower high blood sugar levels in diabetics. Now our research shows that bariatric surgery is a viable way to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer in this growing population.

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The rates of diabetes, obesity, and pancreatic cancer are increasing worldwide. In pancreatic cancer, the number of European cases has increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016, one of the largest increases in pancreatic cancer. Overall, it is estimated that 46,200 people in Europe will die from this disease by 2020, compared to 42,200 deaths in 2015. In addition, more than half (52%) of adults in Europe are overweight, with children increasingly affected.

The use of bariatric surgery is increasing

Dr. Syed explains how important it is to prevent pancreatic cancer, as the survival rate of the disease has not improved for four decades. “The average survival time after diagnosis is particularly grim for this silent killer, which is only 4 to 6 months. Only 3% of patients survive more than five years,” the physician emphasizes. “Doctors should consider bariatric surgery for patients suffering from metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity,” the specialist concludes.

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The rate of use of bariatric surgery in the US increased dramatically in the past decade. In 2018, 252,000 patients of whom over 50% were morbidly obese, underwent bariatric surgery, the majority of whom were women (80%).


Obesity and Pancreatic Cancer: Overview of Epidemiology and Potential Prevention by Weight Loss.


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