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Do You Gain Weight With Breast Cancer

Weight Changes After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast Cancer and Weight Gain

The survey found that nearly two-thirds 63.7% of the women reported an average weight gain of about 20 pounds after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Overall, 17% of the women reported gaining more than 44 pounds.

The womens average weight when they were diagnosed was about 157 pounds. When they completed the survey, the womens average weight was about 167 pounds.

Just under half the women were overweight or obese when they were diagnosed, but by the time they completed the survey, 67.3% of the women were overweight or obese. The number of women who were obese increased the most: 17% of the women were obese when diagnosed, and 31.9% of the women were obese when they completed the survey.

Almost 75% of the women who were obese when they completed the survey said they had high levels of concern about their weight.

Most of the women 77% said they gained weight within the first 12 to 18 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

As doctors we really need to actively think about weight, nutrition, and exercise and advise about possible interventions, said co-author John Boyages, of the ICON Cancer Center at Sydney Adventist Hospital. Prescribing a healthy lifestyle is just as important as prescribing tablets.;

After Treatment Be Prepared For Change

The end of treatment brings pivotal changes, both mental and physical, for cancer survivors, including a recommended switch back to a mostly plant-based diet to manage their weight. Just like other healthy people, survivors should follow the MyPlate recommendations to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables and split the remaining half between grains and protein.

For survivors, its still very important to make sure their weight is a healthy weight, Ms. Gerdes says, explaining that this group may be at higher risk for other health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We want to make sure that once theyve gotten over the hump of treatment that they continue forward with a healthy diet, at a healthy weight, with a healthy lifestyle.

Ms. Stella adds: Recommendations about weight management are patient specific, and there is no meal plan thats right for everyone. Patients undergoing active treatment will always be instructed to maintain or gain weight, while some survivors may be instructed to lose weight. Its always best to check with your primary doctor to determine if weight loss, gain, or maintenance is best.

Is Weight Gain A Side Effect

A major concern among women on;tamoxifen is if they will gain weight. And whether were talking about tamoxifen , weight gain is possible.

Here are just a few potential;side effects;from

  • Hot flashes

The;Mayo Clinic also details;weight gain or loss;as a possible side effect.

So the risk of gaining weight is very real.

But how common is it?

To answer that, well dive into the research. And, the study were going to look at is one of the most comprehensive out there.

This womens healthy eating and living study spanned a six-year period and included more than 3,000 breast cancer survivorsranging in age from 27 to 74.

Among the studys goals, one was to determine if tamoxifen had an effect on weight change after a breast cancer diagnosis.

The study had two key conclusions:

  • That there was no link between weight gain and tamoxifen.
  • However, chemotherapy is significantly associated with weight gain.
  • So, to answer the question: Should I worry about gaining weight on tamoxifen?

    The answer is:

    Weight gain is a potential side effect of tamoxifen. However, most studies suggest there is no direct link.


    An unfortunate fact remains. Many women will gain weight after diagnosis.

    In fact, according to an article published in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology, you can expect to gain anywhere from 2 to 11 pounds.

    Right now, you may be asking

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    How Important Is Exercise

    It’s really good for your overall health — but talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

    Physical activity can often help reduce the side effects of nausea and fatigue. It can also lift your energy levels. One study found that exercise after chemotherapy might boost infection-fighting T cells, too.

    Even a moderate amount of exercise may help you live longer.

    Strength training can help rebuild body mass and increase your strength. You need to take care when working with weights on the upper body, though. That’s because lymphedema — arm swelling — is a common concern after breast cancer treatment.

    Drugs & Foods Can Affect The Cyp Catalytic Cycle

    Metastatic Breast Cancer and Weight Gain

    This is important to know because many drugs, supplementsand some foods affect the level of CYP2D6 activity in our liver.; There also seems to be a genetic and ethnicitycomponent to the level of this enzyme activity.;I will just be talking about food in this article.;But it is important for you to talk toyour oncologist or pharmacist about all the drugs & supplements you aretaking while on tamoxifen.;

    There are many drugs, including over the countermedications, and concentrated supplements, including those found in health foodstores, that can lower activity of these enzymes and prevent you from gettingthe full benefit from tamoxifen.;;

    You can see some of the drugs that interact with the CYP enzymes here. ;But, honestly, its easier just to have a chat with your pharmacist.; That is what they are there for, after all.

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    Weight Gain May Reduce Risk Of Breast Cancer Before Menopause

    New research has found that women who gain weight in early adulthood are at a decreased risk of breast cancer before menopause.

    A new study, which features in the International Journal of Cancer, has found that women who gain weight from early adulthood are at a reduced risk of developing breast cancer before they reach menopause.

    The study builds on previous research, which found that women who weighed more as young adults had a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

    World Health Organization note that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, among whom it accounts for the highest number of cancer-related deaths.

    According to statistics that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute compiled, 41,487 women died of breast cancer in the United States in 2016, the latest year for which there are records.

    What This Means For You

    As many of us know, trying to lose weight especially as we get older can be hard and frustrating.

    Still, it can be done with careful changes to your diet and regular exercise. The first thing to do is to talk to your doctor about a healthy weight for you based on your age, height, body type, and activity level. Then ask your doctor about a safe and sensible plan to lose weight that is specifically designed for you and your needs.

    Once you have the OK from your doctor and a weight goal, you can create a healthy eating plan that meets your nutritional needs. You may want to talk to a registered dietitian about how to create a healthy eating plan thats tailored to your specific needs and likes.

    Some women say that it helps to think of eating well and exercising as important parts of their treatment plans. Remember to be nice to yourself; dont punish yourself.

    In the Nutrition section, the Eating to Lose Weight After Treatment pages can help you assess your weight and create a healthy eating plan. And the Exercise pages can help you find a trainer and learn how to stick to an exercise routine.

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    Perspective On Weight Gain And Breast Cancer

    The new findings echo previous research that has found a link not only between excess weight and death in breast cancer patients but also excess weight and breast cancer recurrence.

    Excess weight can also increase risk of getting breast cancer, other research has found, at least for postmenopausal women. “In the postmenopausal period, adipose tissue is the primary source of estrogen,” Nichols says. “So the greater BMI in postmenopausal women may increase exposure to circulating estrogen .”

    The message is clear, Irwin says. Paying attention to diet and exercise and trying to maintain a healthy weight is crucial.

    Drinking Coffee Is Okay Too

    Losing Weight After Breast Cancer Treatment

    There have been a few studies that suggest drinking coffee can help prevent tamoxifen resistance. One study, published in the Cancer Causes & Control Journal, reported that tamoxifen-treated patients with ER+ breast cancer who drank 2 5+ cups of coffee per day had significant decreased risk for cancer recurrence. However, we need to be cautious in interpreting this finding. The researchers further went on to state that more research is needed to confirm this.

    So, if you like to drink coffee, go ahead and drink coffee. If you dont drink coffee, there is no reason to start the habit just yet.

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    How To Gain Weight When You Have Cancer

    This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 86% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 89,061 times.

    Research suggests that weight loss is very common during and after cancer treatment.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source While you’re battling cancer, you may not have an appetite anymore, and you might experience symptoms like nausea that make it hard to eat. Experts agree that you need to meet your calorie, protein, and hydration needs to help you get the best treatment outcome possible.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Fortunately, there are a few easy options for adding calories to your diet to support your nutritional needs.

    Losing Weight May Decrease Risk For Breast Cancer

    You may have heard that roughly two thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or have obesity. But you may not know that some studies have linked obesity with certain cancers, including breast cancer in women.

    Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 kg/m2 or above, and obesity is diagnosed when the BMI is 30 or above. Obesity increases the risk of many disorders, including certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many others.

    According to the American Cancer Society, the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer may be approximately 1.5 times higher in overweight women and two times higher in women with obesity. Likewise, weight gain is associated with higher cancer risk in postmenopausal women who are not on hormone therapy. It is estimated that approximately 316,000 women and 2,500 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

    The reasons for the association between higher BMI and cancer remain unclear. Many hormonal and metabolic factors have been investigated as possible links, including estrogen, insulin, leptin, chronic inflammation, and many others. Additional large studies are underway.

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    How To Avoid Weight Gain After Breast Cancer

    Theres a reason that at least you have your health is a clichéand if youve faced a serious health threat like breast cancer, the words may ring even truer for you than for other people. But just because youve received a clean bill of health doesnt mean life will automatically go back to the way it was pre-cancer. Its time to learn how to take care of your newly cancer-free body.According to American Cancer Society guidelines for survivors, living a healthy lifestylewhich includes making smart dietary choices and being activemay be essential to helping prevent recurrence. And that means its crucial to address one of the potential side effects of cancer treatment that often doesnt get much attention: weight gain.Breast cancer patients whove undergone chemotherapy are about two times more likely to gain 11 or more pounds within five years post-treatment than are women who are cancer-free, according to a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. And a Canadian study found that women gained 4 to 13 pounds in the first year after being diagnosed.If youve been treated for breast cancer, you likely already understand why patients may be vulnerable to weight gain. Chemotherapy may interfere with your metabolism or throw you into temporary menopause. Fatigue could sap your motivation to stay active. And no matter how much of a warrior you become in your breast cancer fight, theres no denying the psychological burden that might lead to emotional eating.

    Specific Demographic Medical Menopausal And Lymphoedema Details Requested In The Survey

    Breast Cancer

    Demographic characteristics.

    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.

    Medical details.

    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 .

    Lifestyle habits.

    Weight management.

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    Study Design And Inclusion Criteria

    A cross-sectional self-administered anonymous survey was conducted in Australia between November 2017 and January 2018 using Qualtrics® online survey software . Any woman living in Australia who self-identified as having BC was eligible to complete the survey. A copy of the Participant Information Sheet was provided electronically via a link on the survey website prior to starting the survey, and women were informed that consent was implied upon commencing the survey. This method of consent was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee . The sample included members of the Breast Cancer Network Australia Review and Survey Group comprising BCNA members who had agreed to receive emails about research studies. Limiting research at BCNA to the Review and Survey group allows researchers to access women who are engaged in the research process, while protecting other BCNA members from frequent research requests. The Review and Survey Group represents approximately 2% of all BCNA members and is one of the largest breast cancer consumer groups available for research in Australia, representing an important source of feedback for the research community.

    Body Weight And Breast Cancer Risk Before Menopause

    Women who are overweight or obese before menopause have a 20-40 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.

    Most breast cancers occur after menopause. Any weight gained before menopause may be carried into the postmenopausal years.

    Hormone receptor status

    Some findings suggest women who are overweight or obese may have an increased risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancers before menopause, including triple negative breast cancers .

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    What Are The Risks Of Gaining Or Losing Pounds

    Weight gain can raise your risk for getting high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Being overweight also puts you at risk for getting other types of cancers. Research has also shown that carrying around extra pounds can raise your risk of breast cancer recurring.

    Weight loss can cause you to lose energy, and poor nutrition can make it harder for you to recover.

    Breast Cancer & Weight Gain: What You Need To Know

    Weight, Weight Gain & the Breast Cancer Survivor

    Nearly 80% of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer will experience weight gain,1 reported to range between two pounds and 18 pounds. Not only is this an alarming trend for general health and self-image, but also some evidence suggests that pre-menopausal women who gain weight have a 1.5 fold increase risk of cancer recurrence.2 Other studies have shown that some types of treatment, such as anastrozole , are less effective at treating breast cancer in patients who are obese.3

    Stephanie Graff, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health and Associate Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Sarah Cannon Research Institute shares what people should know about the risk factors for weight gain after a breast cancer diagnosis.

    Simultaneously hitting menopause

    Women who become post-menopausal within the year they are diagnosed with breast cancer are the most likely to gain weight. An average woman without breast cancer gains three pounds with menopause.4 The risk of weight gain with menopause is highest in women who were at a healthy weight when reaching menopause. There does not seem to be a significant weight gain in women who quit hormone replacement at the time of a breast cancer diagnosis.

    Treatment effects

    Emotional wellness & coping skills


  • Ligibel JA and Winer EP. Aromatase inhibition in obese women: How much is enough? J Clin Oncol 2012 Aug 20; 30:2940.
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