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Weight-loss surgery reduces the risk of deadly skin cancer by more than 60%, study finds 

Weight-loss surgery reduces people’s risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer by more than 60 per cent, new research suggests.

People who have a gastric band or bypass are 61 per cent less likely to develop melanoma, which can spread to other organs, a Swedish study found today.

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Bariatric surgery lowers the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, which is less serious and rarely spreads, by 42 per cent, the research adds.

Researchers believe their findings suggest obesity is a risk factor for skin cancer. Previous studies suggest the two conditions share a genetic link.

It is unclear why weight loss lowers the risk of melanoma more than other forms of the disease. 

Melanoma affects around 15,000 new people every year in the UK. 

Weight-loss surgery reduces people’s risk of the deadliest skin cancer by over 60% (stock)

‘Obesity is a melanoma risk factor’ 

The researchers, from the University of Gothenburg, wrote: ‘In this long-term study, bariatric surgery reduced the risk of malignant melanoma. 

‘This finding supports the idea that obesity is a melanoma risk factor and indicates that weight loss in individuals with obesity can reduce the risk of a deadly form of cancer that has increased steadily in many countries over several decades.’ 

They analysed 2,007 people who underwent surgical weight-loss procedures.

These were compared against 2,040 people who did not have such surgeries. 

Skin cancer diagnoses were recorded between surgeries and an average of 18 years later.  

The findings were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.   

People who have a gastric band or bypass are 61% less likely to develop melanoma (stock)

People who have a gastric band or bypass are 61% less likely to develop melanoma (stock)

Alcohol increases the risk of skin cancer by up to 11% 

This comes after research released last August suggested just one glass of wine a day may increase the risk of certain forms of skin cancer by up to 11 per cent.

For every extra 10g of alcohol a day, the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma (BCC) rises by seven per cent and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) by 11 per cent, a study found.

This is equivalent to a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.

BCC and cSCC are abnormal, uncontrolled growths that arise in the outer layers of the skin, but in different cell types. 

Past research suggests the ethanol in alcohol can metabolize into acetaldehyde, which is a chemical compound that damages DNA and prevents its repair.

The researchers of the recent study argue alcohol is a preventable and modifiable risk factor.

Consequently, they believe their findings could help create a global-health target to reduce skin cancer’s burden. 


Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (typically due to harmful UV rays) and then not repaired so it triggers mutations that can form malignant tumors. 

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 91,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the US in 2018 and more than 9,000 are expected to die from it.


  • Sun exposure: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin
  • Moles: The more moles you have, the greater the risk for getting melanoma 
  • Skin type: Fairer skin has a higher risk for getting melanoma
  • Hair color: Red heads are more at risk than others
  • Personal history: If you’ve had melanoma once, then you are more likely to get it again
  • Family history: If previous relatives have been diagnosed, then that increases your risk


This can be done by removing the entire section of the tumor or by the surgeon removing the skin layer by layer. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out exactly where the cancer stops so they don’t have to remove more skin than is necessary. 

The patient can decide to use a skin graft if the surgery has left behind discoloration or an indent. 

  • Immunotherapy, radiation treatment or chemotherapy: 

This is needed if the cancer reaches stage III or IV. That means that the cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body. 


  • Use sunscreen and do not burn
  • Avoid tanning outside and in beds 
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside
  • Keep newborns out of the sun
  • Examine your skin every month
  • See your physician every year for a skin exam 

 Source: Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society


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