Association between weight loss and serum biomarkers with risk of incident cancer in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery cohort

Andrea M. Stroud, Elizabeth N. Dewey, Farah A. Husain, Jared M. Fischer, Anita P. Courcoulas, David R. Flum, James E. Mitchell, Walter J. Pories, Jonathan Q. Purnell, Bruce Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Bariatric surgery reduces cancer risk in populations with obesity. It is unclear if weight loss alone or metabolic changes related to bariatric surgery cause this effect. Objective: We evaluated the relationship between surgical weight loss and serum biomarker changes with incident cancer in a bariatric surgery cohort. Setting: Ten U.S. clinical facilities. Methods: The Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery 2 (LABS-2) is a prospective multicenter cohort (n = 2458, 79% female, mean age = 46). We evaluated weight and serum biomarkers, measured preoperatively and 1 year postoperatively, as predictors for incident cancer. Associations were determined using Cox proportional hazards models adjusting for weight loss, age, sex, education, and smoking history. Results: Over 8759 person-years of follow-up, 82 patients reported new cancer diagnosis (936 per 100,000 person-years, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 749–1156). Cancer risk was decreased by approximately 50% in participants with 20% to 34.9% total weight loss (TWL) compared with <20% TWL (hazard ratio [HR] =. 49, 95%CI:. 29–.83). Reduced cancer risk was observed with percent decrease from baseline for glucose (per 10%, HR =. 94, 95%CI:. 90–.99), proinsulin (per 20%, HR =. 95, 95%CI:. 93–.98), insulin (per 30%, HR =. 97, 95%CI:. 96–.99), and leptin (per 20%, HR =. 81, 95%CI:. 68–.97), and per 15% percent increase in ghrelin (HR =. 94, 95%CI:. 29–.83). Conclusions: After bariatric surgery, cancer risk is reduced >50% when weight loss exceeds 20% TWL compared with patients with <20% TWL. Weight loss alone may not explain the observed risk reduction, as improvements in diabetes, leptin, and ghrelin were associated with decreased cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1094
Number of pages9
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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