University of Cincinnati Wins $2 Million Federal Grant to Study Effect of Weight Loss Surgery on Cancer Rates

Dr. Schauer DanielA University of Cincinnati professor has been awards a $2 million federal grant to study bariatric surgery and cancer rate in morbidly obese adults. His goal is to discover the effects of this surgery based on specific characteristics including ethnicity, race or gender.

lead investigator of this grand will be Dr. Daniel Schauer, an assistant professor in their School of Medicine. He will be responsible for leading a team of researchers from the school and five other sites to review the health outcomes of 500,000 patients.

Ultimately, obesity is believed to cause 85,000 new cases of cancer each year. Nearly 15 million adults in the United States suffer from severe obesity (having a body mass index of over 30).

Schauer understands that obesity is a growing problem in the United States and believes that research that links obesity with cancer is important. He wants to look at how intentional weight loss reduces a person’s risk of cancer. They also will look at methods of weight loss including bariatric surgery and how it lowers one’s risk compared to regular diet and exercise.

The research team will look at rates of cancer in 35,000 patients who had weight loss surgery from 2005 to 2012. They will compare those rates with a comparable group of 500,000 patients who did not have the surgery. The data they use will be provided by the HMO Research Network. They include Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Group Health Cooperative, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Schauer and his team hope to have some initial results next year. He said that they will be aggregating data from all of the sites in the first year and will build models to identify relationships in the second year.

Does Obesity Contribute to Cancer?

Ultimately clinical trials that look at whether intentional weight loss reduces cancer risk have not been done and data from any observational studies is very sparse. This study hopes to look at all types of cancer initially and then break them down by obesity-associated types (most common being breast cancer). The study also will look at whether bariatric surgery alone can reduce cancer or whether the risk is affected directly by the amount of weight that is lost thus changes with every patient. Money for this study was awarded from the National Cancer Institute.

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