A recent study reveals that individuals with obesity who undergo weight loss surgery have a reduced risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (US).
Melanoma accounts for just 1% of skin cancer cases, but it causes the majority of deaths from this type of disease.
There are an estimated 96,480 new melanoma diagnoses each year in the United States.
According to the recent study, the rates of malignant melanoma are rising faster than those of any other cancer.
In the U.S. there were 8,650 deaths due to melanoma in 2009.
Despite improved treatments and better 5-year survival rates, there were around 10,130 deaths from this cause in 2016.
Although scientists have identified risk factors associated with melanoma, such as fair skin, family history, and sun exposure, it is not clear why incidence rates are rising.
Because obesity is a risk factor for certain cancers, some researchers have asked whether it might also raise melanoma risk.
However, to date, studies have failed to find a clear-cut association.
A Swedish study from 2009 found that women with obesity who undergo bariatric surgery have a reduced risk of cancer.
There was not enough data to assess whether weight loss surgery impacted skin cancer risk, specifically.
However, researchers have continued to follow the participants in the original study, now for an average of 18.1 years.
A team recently revisited the dataset in an effort to “investigate the association between bariatric surgery and skin cancer, including melanoma.”
Overall, 23 individuals in the surgery group had developed malignant skin cancer; squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma.
In the control group, 45 individuals had developed this type of disease.
The researchers found that the largest difference between the two groups concerned malignant melanoma.
In the control group, there were 29 cases of the disease, while in the surgery group, there were just 12 cases.
This equates to a 57% reduction in malignant melanoma risk.