Obesity-Related Cancer Deaths are on the Rise and Trends Parallel Those Observed for Heart Disease.

While Overall mortality rates for cancer continue to decline in the U.S., since 2011, that decline has slowed for obesity-associated cancers.  The mortality trends for obesity-associated cancers mirror those for heart disease,

According to Christy Avery, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues . “After four decades of decline, annual improvements in heart disease mortality slowed in 2011; this slowing has been associated with the obesity epidemic,”   [Avery CL, Howard AG, Nichols HB, JAMA Open. 2021;4(5):e218356. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.8356].  

The researchers found that trends in obesity-associated cancer mortality and heart disease mortality showed slowing improvements that emerged in the second decade of the 21st century.  The investigators conclude these effects are caused by the ongoing obesity epidemic in which 2 out of 5 Americans are now obese.

 

Cleveland Clinic Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Decreases Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Dr. Steven Nissen and colleagues compared the impact of various types of bariatric surgery on almost 2,300 people to the usual medical care on more than 11,000 obese patients with similar symptoms treated between 1998 and 2017 at the Cleveland Clinic.

Those having bariatric surgery lost more weight and had fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes, a lower incidence of kidney and heart failure, a lower incidence of atrial fibrillation, lower blood sugar levels, and experienced a 41% lower over all morbidity during the study.  Additionally, those who had surgery used fewer medications for diabetes and other conditions.

The researchers concluded that many of the deleterious effects of obesity are potentially reversible.

Obesity Surgery Benefits May Be Greater For Teens Than Adults

obese kids
 

Most obese teens remain obese as adults, and adults who were obese as teens are unhealthier than those who become obese later in life. 

A new study presented at the Combating Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston (Weight Loss and Health Status 3 Years after Bariatric Surgery in Adolescents. Inge TH, Courcoulas AP, Jenkins TM, et al. N Engl J Med 2016; 374:113-123) suggests that teens may benefit more from early surgery than adults.  

The researchers compared results from two studies of gastric bypass surgery in 161 teens and 396 adults who had been obese since they were teens. Three years after their operations, both groups had lost between 26% to 29% of their weigh and Diabetes went into remission in 86% of teens and 53% of adults diagnosed with the disease before surgery. High blood pressure was also normalized in 68% of teens and 41% of adults.

Although a 2% mortality accompanied surgery in both groups, two of the teens died from drug overdoses, suggesting substance abuse and self harm may accompany teen obesity.

The researchers documented the durability of clinically meaningful weight loss and metabolic improvements and weight-related quality of life among adolescents who underwent gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy. The benefits of these current bariatric surgical alternatives must be viewed in the context of the risks of nutritional deficiencies and the possibility that future surgical procedures will be needed in some patients.

It is this author’s hope that Endoscopic Visceral Lipectomy, which does not expose the patient to the nutritional and surgical risks inherent in bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy, may prove equally effective and a safer minimally invasive intervention for this younger population (Uncoiling the Tightening Obesity Spiral. Cucin RL Clin Res Diab Endocrinol:1(2):1-5 (2018)).