In comparison to women who were never diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer survivors tend to gain more weight.
Previous research has indicated weight gain was common among cancer survivors. But it was never pinpointed which types of cancers were a factor. Weight gain in breast cancer survivors was observed in relation to age and changes in menopause status or in relation to treatment.
About 303 breast cancer survivors and 307 women without cancer were recruited for the study. They were about the same age and had progressed to around the same stage of menopause. Participants answered questionnaires that were used to compare changes in weight.
The results revealed that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer five years prior to the first survey, experienced an average weight gain of 3.81 pounds. Survivors who were diagnosed five years prior the questionnaire with estrogen receptor-negative invasive cancer gained on average 7.26 pounds. These results were in comparison to their non-cancer cohorts.
Furthermore, survivors who were diagnosed with cancer within five years prior to the survey, gained at least 11 pounds.
“Our study showed that women diagnosed with breast cancer and those who received chemotherapy to treat their breast cancer gained more weight within the first five years of diagnosis and treatment than cancer-free women,” said study author Kala Visvananthan, director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics and Prevention Service at Baltimore’s Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“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.”
Weight gain is significant for cancer survivors as it can contribute to further chronic illness in the future.
The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.