Breast Cancer Survivors Gain Weight More Than Cancer-Free Women

Dr. Kala Visvanathan, MD, MHS, director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics and Prevention Service at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and colleagues reported that breast cancer survivors gain weight faster than cancer-free women in the first five years post-treatment, especially after statin and chemotherapy use with an exception for hormone therapy. This study was recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.

Dr. Kala Visvanathan and colleagues conducted their study on 307 cancer-free women with familial risk and 303 breast cancer survivors. They compared weight change of these cancer-free women and breast cancer survivors over 4 years in absolute numbers and percentage matched based on their menopausal status and age. The association between weight gain and survivor status were estimated using logistic and linear regression. The result of their study showed that breast cancer survivors gained an average of 3.81 pounds which was more than the weight gained in the control group within a 5-year time frame. Survivors that received chemotherapy gained even more weight. Within 5 years from baseline, 21% of the women treated with chemotherapy gained at least 11 pounds during the study period. Further details of the study result can be found here.

Dr. Kala Visvanathan stated that both women and physicians should be aware of the risk for gaining weight post-cancer survival. She added that they should be monitored over a period of time and intervention is needed if the woman is gaining weight. She also believed that for women to optimize their weight post-treatment, encouragement is needed. Dr. Alice Chung, MD, a surgical oncologist in the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Los Angeles, California, uninvolved in this study commented that this study is interesting as it also highlight that extra body fat post-menopause increases the risk for breast cancer and recurrence.


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