Fertility and pregnancy outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome following bariatric surgery

25 August 2020

Fertility and pregnancy outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome following bariatric surgery

Conceiving a child is a fairly common reason for a woman to consider weight loss surgery.  There are lots of different causes for female infertility and some of them are directly related to obesity.  Polycystic ovaries is one of them.  From this study we can deduce that if the primary reason for infertility is PCOS then having weight loss surgery - which is the best 'treatment' for PCOS - can significantly increase the chances of conceiving and going on to have a successful pregnancy. For women considering IVF who are overweight or have known PCOS, bariatric surgery may actually be the most effective option.  Worthwhile discussing it with your GP, fertility specialist or … me!

Look forward to it.



Researchers conducted this unicenter cohort study to analyze fertility and gestational outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) following bariatric surgery. For this analysis, 216 premenopausal women were screened for PCOS prior to bariatric surgery. From 2005 to 2015, all participants had bariatric surgery. Pregnancy rates for women seeking fertility were 95.2% in PCOS and 76.9% in controls and live birth rates were 81.0% and 69.2%, respectively. The time after surgery to reach the first pregnancy was 34 ± 28 months in women with PCOS, and 32 ± 25 months in controls. There were rare maternal and neonatal complications, with no differences between groups. Pregnancy and fertility rates were high in very obese women with PCOS after bariatric surgery, with few maternal and neonatal complications.

Bariatric surgery reduces CRC risk in patients with obesity

23 August 2020

Bariatric surgery reduces CRC risk in patients with obesity

Who would have thought that being overweight causes cancer?  Well, that is the case.  Not for all cancers but it is true for Colorectal cancer.  This study looks at two groups of obese patients - those who have and those who haven't had Bariatric surgery - and calculates how many people developed Colorectal cancer in each group over a 5 year period.  Shockingly the obese non-surgical group had a colorectal cancer risk 30% higher than non-obese people.  However, if the group of obese patients who had had bariatric surgery and lost weight, their cancer risk was reduced back to the risk of the non-obese population.  What this shows is that by losing weight, the risk of colorectal cancer in the obese group who had surgery steadily decreased back to the rate of non-obese people.  So, similar to the likes of Type 2 diabetes, cancer risks are able to be reversed with significant weight loss.  Benefits anywhere we look!

Kind regards and talk again soon.

Steph Ulmer


Bariatric surgery significantly reduces colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in patients with obesity to the extent that they share the same risk of colorectal cancer as the general population, according to researchers from Université Côte d’Azur, Nice, France. However, for patients with obesity who do not undergo bariatric surgery, the risk is 34% above that of the general population.

The retrospective, population-based, multi-centre, cohort study, ‘Colorectal Cancer Risk Following Bariatric Surgery in a Nationwide Study of French Individuals With Obesity’, published in JAMA Surgery, examined if bariatric surgery is associated with altered risk of colorectal cancer among individuals with obesity.

The study included 1,045,348 individuals with obesity (aged 50 to 75 years) who were free of colorectal cancer at baseline. There were 74 131 patients in the bariatric surgery group (adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass) and 971,217 in the non-surgical cohort. Using data from the French national health insurance information system database, patient in the non-surgical group were followed for a mean 5.3 (2.1) years and a mean 5.7 (2.2) years for those who had surgery.  

There were 13,052 incident colorectal cancers (1.2%,  (63,649 colorectal benign polyps were diagnosed) and the colorectal cancer was 0.6% in the surgical cohort and 1.3% in the non-surgical group. It was expected that there would be 9,417 cases in the non-surgical group, not the 12,629 observed (standardised incidence ratio of 1.34). In the bariatric surgery cohort, 428 cases were expected and 423 observed (standardised incidence ratio of 1.0). Propensity score–matched hazard ratios in comparable operated vs non-operated groups were 0.68 for colorectal cancer and 0.56 for colorectal benign polyp.

Regarding the procedures, there were fewer new diagnoses of colorectal cancer after gastric bypass (123 of 22,343 - 0.5%) and sleeve gastrectomy (185 of 35,328 - 0.5%) than after adjustable gastric banding (115 of 16,460 - 0.7%). There were also more colorectal benign polyps after adjustable gastric banding (775 of 15,647 - 5.0%) than after gastric bypass (639 of 20,863 - 3.1%) or sleeve gastrectomy (1,005 of 32,680 - 3.1%).

Why losing weight is a battle with biology and your environment

17 March 2020

Why losing weight is a battle with biology and your environment

Hello All,

This puts a lot of explanation to the things we know about losing weight and being able to keep it off.  It is a fight against our own biology including our powerful brains!  Doomed for failure without help is what the research says (95% of people who lose significant weight on diets, end up regaining their weight - and more).  Thankfully weight loss surgery is often the key to helping people to make those long term habit and lifestyle changes that are essential for success.  The Holy Grail of weight loss surgery is maintaining the weight loss long term.  Obviously what I do with the operation is purely physical which doesn't necessarily address the brain/head side of the process - which can be equally powerful.  I often advise my patients that counselling sessions - 3 monthly for the first 2 years following surgery - are a priority in helping to optimise the thought processes/habit changes/cravings/emotional eating side of the journey.  Not everyone needs it, but it should certainly be considered as an adjunct to Bariatric Surgery.

Anyway, food for thought...

Keep smiling!


Weight loss should not be the primary motivation behind healthy lifestyle changes, according to researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, who claim that there is a growing body of research showing that upwards of 95 percent of those who achieve any sort of meaningful weight loss will pack it back on, and then some, within a couple of years.

Dr Arya Sharma, who is chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta and medical director of the Alberta Health Services Provincial Obesity Strategy, explained that as we gain weight, our body's biology changes and will actually start defending that higher body weight as the new normal, regardless of how you put it on.

"As you start eating less, your body senses there's not enough calories coming in, and you start having cravings," he said. "In fact, you might even find food that you normally don't like - high-caloric food - will actually seem much more attractive to you."

Sharma said the brain has a whole bag of tricks at its disposal, with the sole purpose of trying to get you to eat - beginning with increasing appetite and heightening taste and smell. The next strategy your body employs to combat any substantial weight loss is to reduce the amount of calories it burns.

"If there's not enough calories coming in, the body turns down the thermostat," he said. "That's why people who lose weight often complain of feeling cold."

In addition, as we reduce the number of calories the body gets more fuel-efficient and is able to cut calorie consumption during physical activity.

"That's the big difference between biology and physics. If you look at your car, you can't teach your car to run on less fuel, but you can train your body to run on less fuel and you can become more fuel-efficient - it's an adaptive system."

When those three things are taken together - increasing appetite and burning fewer calories at rest and at play - along with genetics and the fact that most of us have a finite amount of willpower, Sharma said it doesn't matter what exercise program you follow or which diet you implement - your body's going to want those calories back.

"I liken it to pulling on a rubber band. You lose the weight and now you're pulling on this rubber band, and you have to keep pulling. The minute you let go, it's just going to snap back. That's what makes long-term weight loss so difficult."

Sharma said because weight loss and weight maintenance carry on basically forever, obesity needs to be treated as a chronic disease.

"When you have diabetes, and you need to follow a diet and take your insulin, you need to follow your diet and take insulin forever. It's the same thing."

He added the treatments that work best in the long term are the ones that fight this biology, such as bariatric surgery and medications that can block the adaptive responses of the body.

"The body can still fight it, which is why there are some people who have bariatric surgery or who take the medication and then go off, who still end up putting the weight back on," said Sharma. "That just tells you how powerful those mechanisms can be."

According to Kim Raine, an obesity researcher in the School of Public Health, we are unwittingly helping our nature to gain weight with a seismic shift in the last 40 or so years in our environment.

"We may be eating more than we used to and we may be less physically active than before, but it's not generally our choice to do that - it's that our environment has changed significantly," she said.

For instance, the ability to have food at our beck and call has increased exponentially in the last number of years. About a decade ago, Raine's lab assessed the relative amount of fast food and convenience stores compared with grocery stores in the city of Edmonton. They used fast food and convenience stores as a proxy for unhealthy high-calorie food and grocery stores as a proxy for where you at least have the option of getting something healthier.  They counted 61 grocery stores and 761 fast food and convenience stores.

"We've got this exposure to food like we've never had before - that's the physical environment."

Perhaps even more invasive than the availability of food is the constant bombardment of messages promoting unhealthy food. Raine noted that marketers of unhealthy foods and beverages spend more money in three days than governments trying to promote healthy eating spend in a year.

"And then we expect the nutrition education campaign that says 'eat your vegetables' to counteract that. It doesn't make a lot of sense."

The increase motorised transportation means we do not walk anywhere anymore and even well-meaning policies aimed at giving people greater access and increased choice to schools might be having a deleterious effect on physical activity.

Raine suggested open boundary policies that allow students to attend the school of their choice no matter where they live might be helping to drive the obesity epidemic too, as many kids are no longer walking to their neighbourhood school.

"Because even if we work out an hour a day, it doesn't necessarily make up for what you would have walking back and forth to school or work four times," she said.

"It's not a single one of those pieces that causes the problem, it's when you add them all up."

While schools themselves do their best to teach kids about nutrition, Raine said students can walk out into the hallway to find a vending machine filled with high-calorie junk food.

"We're fighting against an environment that is really pushing us to consume more and to be less active," she said. "We need to move beyond trying to teach people to cope with the environment and change the environment."

Raine said it can start in school. The University of Alberta-led APPLE Schools programme promotes the value of healthy eating and physical activity, but these programmes need to be mandatory and need to be better funded.

Restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children would also help, Raine said. Such restrictions have been in place in Quebec since 1980, and research shows those children consume significantly less fast food and have lower obesity rates.

She said subsidising healthier foods and taxing high-sodium, high-sugar foods would also help, but added no one thing is going to solve the problem.

"We can learn from successes in tobacco control. Raising taxes, restricting access to minors or eliminating advertising - each one of those things individually did not make major changes to tobacco use, but collectively they changed the culture and denormalised tobacco use."

As for what we can do, health law and policy researcher Timothy Caulfield recommends steering clear of fad diets.

"These diets gain traction because people do lose weight. But they're losing weight because they pay attention to what they're eating for a little while," he said. "One thing I often say to people is, 'Can you name a single diet that worked long-term?' If that existed, we would know."

He said what frustrates him most is that almost all of the marketing and pop-culture references to diet and exercise are tied to weight loss and aesthetics.

"The best diet is the diet that works for you, is sustainable, is healthy and is enjoyable. If it's not enjoyable, it's not going to be sustainable."

University of Alberta nutrition expert, Sabina Valentine, said one of the problems with fad diets is they often target foods we need, like protein, fat and carbohydrates.

"I don't want people going out and eating loads and loads of fat, which happens in the keto diet. In moderate amounts - perhaps 30 percent of your diet - fat contributes to a healthy diet."

Same with carbohydrates, which Valentine said have got a bad rap in the last decade, largely because of sugar.

"Here are all these people avoiding carbohydrates, but they contain fibre, which plays an important role not only for decreasing health risks - like cancer and heart disease - but also for making you feel full."

Rather than restrictive fad diets, Valentine said healthy eating should focus on making common-sense decisions and not being too hard on yourself after enjoying dessert at a party, for instance.

"Learning how to include some of those yummy things in your diet kind of gives you that stick-to-itiveness," she said.  


Thank you for your enquiry. We will be in touch.

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