Losing Weight May Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Excess body weight is an established risk factor for breast cancer. Research suggests thats because too much body fat can elevate levels of sex hormones like estrogen, especially among postmenopausal women. But despite knowing there is a correlation between extra weight and breast cancer, its been difficult to study how losing that weight could affect an individual womans chance of developing cancer.
Now, a new paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute provides encouraging evidence that, for women 50 and older, virtually any amount of sustained weight loss translates to a reduction in breast cancer risk.
Were so thankful to be able to say its not too late to lower your risk if youve previously gained weight, even after age 50, says study co-author Lauren Teras, scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society.
The research drew on data collected through the Pooling Project of Prospective Studies of Diet and Cancer, an international set of studies that seeks to elucidate the relationship between diet and cancer among women without a history of the disease. For the new paper, researchers used data from about 180,000 women living in the U.S., Australia and Asia, all of whom were 50 or older and cancer-free when the studies began. Each woman also provided researchers with data about her weight and body mass index, as well as lifestyle and demographic characteristics.
How Can Weight Gain From Fluid Retention Be Managed
Fluid retention or edema is swelling caused by the buildup of fluid in the body. If you have edema, you might feel like your clothes, rings, or shoes are too tight. People with edema can also have less flexibility in their hands, elbows, wrists, fingers, or legs. Swollen arms or legs, especially around the wrists or ankles, are also a sign of edema. The fluid buildup collects under the skin, so your skin might feel puffy or stiff. Pressing on your skin might leave small indentations.
Talk to your health care team about any of these symptoms so they can diagnose and treat edema. Some of the ways edema can be managed include:
Medication. Your doctor can prescribe a diuretic to remove excess water.
Lower the amount of salt in your diet.
Avoid standing for long periods.
Elevate your feet as often as possible.
Avoid crossing your legs, which restricts blood flow.
Weigh yourself at the same time every day to keep track of changes. This can help your health care team see any fluctuations in your weight that might be caused by edema. Bring this log with you to appointments for your health care team to evaluate.
Avoid tight clothing and footwear.
Ask your health care team if wearing support or compression socks may help.
Questions To Ask Your Health Care Team
Can this cancer or its treatment cause weight gain?
Can my cancer treatment cause edema?
What are ways I can track my weight during cancer treatment?
Who should I tell if I notice changes in my weight?
Is there an oncology dietitian and/or other specialists that I can talk with about making food choices and my exercise routine?
Are there certain exercises I should avoid due to my diagnosis or its treatment?
Who can I talk with if I need help coping with stress or other emotional effects of cancer?
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How Can I Lose Weight After Treatment
Losing weight is not always easy and can take time. But theres a good reason to maintain a healthy weight, besides the way you look. Theres evidence that being overweight could increase the risk of breast cancer coming back, says Lucy Eldridge, dietetic team leader at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
Avoid fad diets that promise rapid weight loss. Often theyre not based on scientific evidence, says Lucy, and youre more likely to keep the weight off if you lose it slowly and steadily.
How Many Cancer Cases May Be Due To Obesity
A nationwide cross-sectional study using BMI and cancer incidence data from the US Cancer Statistics database estimated that each year in 2011 to 2015 among people ages 30 and older, about 37,670 new cancer cases in men and 74,690 new cancer cases in women were due to excess body weight . The percentage of cases attributed to excess body weight varied widely across cancer types and was as high as 51% for liver or gallbladder cancer and 49.2% for endometrial cancer in women and 48.8% for liver or gallbladder cancer and 30.6% for esophageal adenocarcinoma in men.
Globally, a 2019 study found that in 2012, excess body weight accounted for approximately 3.9% of all cancers , with the burden of these cancer cases higher for women than for men . The proportion of cancers due to excess body weight varied from less than 1% in low-income countries to 7% or 8% in some high-income Western countries and in Middle Eastern and Northern African countries.
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Body Weight And Breast Cancer Risk Before Menopause
Women who are overweight or obese before menopause have a 10-20 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who are lean .
Although being overweight or obese is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer before menopause, weight gain should be avoided. This is because any weight gained before menopause may be carried into the postmenopausal years and most breast cancers occur after menopause.
After menopause, being overweight is linked to increased breast cancer risk.
Hormone receptor status
Women who are overweight or obese before menopause have a lower risk of overall breast cancer than those who are lean .
Breast Cancer Weight Loss Study
|The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.|
|Recruitment Status : Active, not recruitingFirst Posted : April 26, 2016Last Update Posted : November 15, 2021|
- Study Details
|Other: Health Education ProgramOther: Weight Loss Intervention||Phase 3|
This randomized controlled trial of weight loss interventions in overweight and obese women with early stage breast cancer consists of two arms, please see the arms section for more information. Patients will be randomized 1:1 within stratification factors: menopausal status , hormone receptor status of the tumor , and race/ethnicity . The primary objective of this trial is to compare the effect of the telephone-based intervention versus a health educational control on invasive disease-free survival . The total sample size is 3136 patients. Patient follow up for primary and secondary endpoints will continue to a maximum of 10 years, as per the standard protocol for cooperative group adjuvant trials.
The primary and secondary objectives of the study:
To evaluate the effect of a supervised weight loss intervention upon:
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How Can Weight Gain During Cancer Treatment Be Managed
Many people will gain weight during treatment for cancer. There are a number of reasons why patients may gain weight during cancer treatment. Some people may become less physically active during cancer treatment. Others may receive medications that change their metabolism. This is especially true for people being treated for breast cancer or prostate cancer. Sometimes, medications that contribute to weight gain are given as part of the treatment plan, such as steroids.
Before starting any kind of diet or changing your eating habits, talk with a member of your health care team. You may find it helpful to talk with a registered dietitian . They can provide nutritional guidelines or a customized diet plan.
General suggestions about good nutrition during cancer treatment include:
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Limit fat, sugar, and refined flour.
Drink plenty of water.
Use healthier cooking methods whenever possible.
Regular physical activity can also be helpful during and after cancer treatment. Check with your doctor before starting a new type of exercise or increasing your physical activity.
Try different physical activities, such as walking or bicycling, to find one that you enjoy and will do regularly.
Explore exercise classes designed for people diagnosed with cancer, either in-person or online.
Try strength-building exercises. These can be especially helpful if you have lost muscle.
Do Other Breast Cancer Medications Cause Weight Gain
Hormone therapy is another treatment that can cause it. This treatment lowers the amount of estrogen and progesterone in women and the amount testosterone in men. It tends to cause an increase in body fat, too. At the same time, there’s a decrease in muscle mass and a change in the way your body converts food into energy.
Many women taking tamoxifen have felt the drug was responsible for their weight gain. So far, though, no conclusive studies have shown a relationship between this hormone and the gains.
Weight gain is not typical in women who’ve undergone surgery alone, or women who’ve had surgery followed by radiation alone.
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Whi Os And Endometrial Cancer Risk
Weight loss has also been associated with significantly lower risk endometrial cancer risk when similarly evaluated in the WHI OS. In this analysis, women with hysterectomy before enrollment and women with prior endometrial cancer were excluded, leaving 36,793 women in the final analysis. Women with weight loss 5% had significantly lower endometrial cancer risk compared to women with stable weight , with the association strongest among obese women with intentional, rather than unintentional, weight loss , a finding not seen in analyses examining breast cancer associations with weight loss . Further studies are needed to determine the differential influence of intentional versus unintentional weight loss on cancer outcomes in postmenopausal women.
Specific Demographic Medical Menopausal And Lymphoedema Details Requested In The Survey
State of residence, highest level of education, ethnicity, employment status, relationship status, current age and age at diagnosis were included to describe the characteristics of women.
Women were asked about their diagnosis, treatments received including treatments received to the axilla, the number of lymph nodes removed, whether they had a reconstruction, use of hormonal treatments, menopausal state , presence of other medical conditions and symptoms such as hot flushes and the presence and severity of lymphoedema.
Women were asked to describe the type of breast cancer they were diagnosed with as either ductal cancer in-situ , localised stage breast cancer , metastatic breast cancer or inflammatory breast cancer. For convenience, inflammatory breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer were then combined and referred to as advanced breast cancer. Women were also asked to indicate the treatments they received such as Lumpectomy alone, Lumpectomy and radiation, mastectomy alone, mastectomy and radiation, removal of lymph nodes, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy , and other. As chemotherapy is invariably not provided to women with DCIS, we recoded the diagnosis as localised if a woman indicated that she had received chemotherapy.
Lymphoedema severity was defined as either no problem , mild , moderate , severe as described elsewhere .
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Is It Possible To Lose Weight With A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Staying on track with diet, nutrition, and weight management is hard enough as it is, but to compound that with a cancer diagnosis, well, lets just say all bets are off!
I have spoken with several people, and I have received tons of emails asking the question of whether or not it is possible to loose weight after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Moreover, I hear the distress among women, myself included, who do not understand why weight gain over the years is more prevalent in those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer compared to those who have not. An interesting study from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center addresses some of the reasons.
Going through active treatment, its important to get some physical exercise when you can. There were definitely days I was so fatigued I could barely walk a block.
Other days, I was able to walk 10,000 steps! It was also important to nourish my body with nutrients.
I rewarded myself after completing 6 months of chemotherapy with a fancy juicer, specifically the Breville Juice Fountain I was committed to getting my health back and fueling my body with healthy fruits and veggies every morning. That, in addition to making smoothies with my Vitamix, I thought I was on track to lose the chemo weight and start feeling my best.
Well, that was a year ago and I havent lost a pound. Thats not to say its impossible to lose weight with a breast cancer diagnosis, but it may take a different approach.
Unexpected Findings On Weight Loss And Breast Cancer From International Study
New research in the February 2021 issue of JNCCNJournal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network examined body mass index data for people with HER2-positive early breast cancer, and found a 5% weight loss in patients over two years in was associated with worse outcomes. Weight gain over the same time period did not affect survival rates.
“The finding that weight loss, and not weight gain, was associated with worse outcomes is unexpected,” said lead researcher Samuel Martel, MD, Universitè de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, who worked with researchers in Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as the National Cancer Institute and the Mayo Clinic in the United States. “We were unable to make a distinction between intentional versus unintentional weight loss, so it’s a matter of speculation whether worse outcomes were due to weight loss, or vice versa. We hope our findings highlight the importance of incorporating consecutive and prolonged data collection on weight in oncology trials, and gaining greater understanding of the metabolic processes after cancer diagnosis that may impact outcomes.”
The study highlights the importance of weight management in cancer survivorship. The authors hope their findings may provide the basis for further research and oncology trials to guide weight control during the survivorship period.
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:
- an ache or pain in the affected bone
- breaks in the bones because they are weaker
- breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells
Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:
How Big A Change Do I Need To Make
While stories of mega-weight loss are inspiring, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to sustainability. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Thats 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Its doable, but be encouraged that even small amounts of activity are better than none. 10 minutes is better than zero minutes, and 20 minutes is better than 10. Small steps lead to success!
Muscle strengthening exercises are also recommended, as these strengthen bones, boost metabolism, and build lean body mass. They also make you feel strong and powerful! Remember, start small and build gradually. Dont use up all your enthusiasm on day one. Think its too late for you to start a weightlifting program? This weightlifting granny begs to differ!
As far as numbers go, the American Cancer Society says that losing as little as 5%-10% of your body weight can increase your health. That certainly sounds reasonable. For a 200-pound person, a 10% weight loss is 20 pounds. That sounds a little more difficult, but remember that it happens one day at a time. A 5% weight reduction for the same person would only be 10 pounds, and a healthy, sustainable weight loss is a half-pound to a pound per week until you hit your goal.
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What Might Cause Me To Gain Weight
Many things can play a role.
Chemotherapycan bring on premature menopause. And with it comes a slowing of the metabolism. That makes it harder to keep weight off. Menopause also causes you to gain more body fat and lose lean muscle.
Itâs common for women who have chemotherapy to gain about 5 to 14 pounds over a year. Some gain less, while others put on as many as 25 pounds.
Another reason for weight gain is the use of corticosteroids. These medications help with nausea and swelling, or to stop reactions to chemotherapy. These drugs can boost your appetite. Corticosteroids are hormones that can also cause an increase in fatty tissue. They can make you lose muscle mass in your arms and legs, and gain belly fat, too. You may also have a fullness of the neck or face. Loss of muscle makes weight gain more apparent.
Women treated with steroids may also put on pounds, but the weight gain is usually seen only after weeks of continuous use.
Some research suggests that weight gain is also related to lack of exercise . When you get your cancer treatment, itâs common to feel stress and have some fatigue, nausea, or pain. That can lead to a drop in how much physical activity you get.
Weight gain may also be related to intense food cravings. Some women crave sweets and carbohydrates during chemotherapy. Too much of these foods can lead to added pounds.