Breast cancer survivors may be prone to weight gain
Breast cancer survivors with a family history of the disease tend to gain more weight than women who have not been diagnosed with cancer, according to a new study.
“This study highlights the need for physicians and their patients, including those with a family history of the disease, to pay closer attention to weight gain during and after treatment,” said Dr. Kala Visvanthan, lead author of the study, in a news release. “Longer follow-up is needed to confirm the persistence of weight gain in breast cancer survivors and understand the metabolic changes that may be occurring.”
Researchers looked at about 300 survivors and 300 cancer-free women of the same age and menopausal status. All the women had a family history of breast cancer. The survivors gained an average of 4 to 7 pounds more than the cancer-free women during the five years following their diagnosis. Additionally, those women who received chemotherapy gained 11 pounds more — at a faster rate — than the women who did not have breast cancer.
Some physicians hope the study results serve as an alert for survivors and their loved ones.
“Most breast cancer patients die of illnesses other than breast cancer,” says Dr. Rosalinda Alvarado, breast surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Maintaining a healthy weight is very important in trying to decrease the likelihood of suffering from other conditions that could become life-threatening.”
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone, whether they’re a cancer survivor or not, Dr. Alvarado explains. In fact, being overweight or obese puts individuals at risk for many cancers and other illnesses.
She offers these tips to keep your weight in check:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Aim for at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables every day. Limit red meat, high-fat foods and sweets.
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Try to exercise at least three days a week.
- Weigh yourself regularly so you can identify any weight-gain trends right away and adjust your diet and exercise as needed.
- Consult your doctor if you need more guidance or help in achieving a healthy weight.
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