Liposuction to remove abdominal fat in lab mice can prevent them from developing UV-induced skin cancers, according to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors of the study are calling for an immediate study in humans to determine whether skin cancer rates are lower among liposuction patients.
Laboratory mice that were fed a high-fat diet experienced a reduction of tumor numbers and volume by roughly 75% after being exposed twice a week to high-energy ultraviolet light for 33 weeks. Another group of mice, which were fed a low-fat diet, experienced no effect on their skin cancer rates after undergoing liposuction.
Dr. Allan Conney, who headed the study, had previously discovered reductions in skin cancer risk caused by caffeine and exercise. He wondered whether this might be linked to the reduction of tissue fat that often results from caffeine and exercise. The mice that underwent liposuction seem to have received a number of health benefits from the procedure, including:
- reduced markers of cell proliferation
- enhanced cell death within the tumors that did form in the lipectomized mice (so that the tumors were basically destroying themselves)
- fewer proteins that have been linked to skin cancer
Dr. Conney says that it remains unclear whether liposuction may affect human skin cancer risk. It’s also unclear whether conventional weight loss might have a corresponding effect. “We don’t know what effect fat removal would have in humans,” he said in a press release. He plans to further investigate the role that liposuction may play in preventing other cancers.
“It would be interesting to see if surgical removal of fat tissue in animals would prevent obesity-associated lethal cancers like those of the pancreas, colon, and prostate,” Conney said.