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Can Weight-Loss Surgery Lower Cancer Risk for Some?

Study found it might cut chances to levels of normal-weight people, but experts view finding with caution

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How to explain the apparent association between obesity and cancer?

"I think there is some good evidence that hormones play a role," Teras said. For instance, fat tissue is the largest source of estrogen in women past menopause, and that is thought to be linked with the type of breast cancer that needs estrogen to grow.

Another possible connection, she said, is inflammation. As people gain more and more weight, they have an increase in inflammation, and that may help tumors grow and spread.

"We're not sure if the obesity causes the cancer," Stein said, "but it may promote it."

Teras offered one more caveat: "Weight-loss surgery, like any surgery, is not without risks. The risks and benefits should be weighed with a person's individual doctor."

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