Breast Cancer Survivors Prone to Weight Gain
Women who survive breast cancer are more likely to gain weight than women who have not had cancer, particularly if they have a family history of breast cancer, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
For their study, which is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers looked at 303 breast cancer survivors and 307 cancer-free women between 2005 and 2013. The women completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the study and again four years later. About 25 percent of the women in the study were pre-menopausal, and the majority of them were white. Researchers also accounted for other factors that influence weight gain including age, menopausal status and physical activity.
Their findings revealed that 21 percent of the breast cancer survivors gained at least 11 pounds over four years, while about 11 percent of the cancer-free women put on 11 pounds over four years.
Additionally, women who completed chemotherapy within five years of the study were 2.1 times more likely to gain at least 11 pounds during the study than women who had not had cancer.
Further findings revealed that cholesterol-blocking drugs also seemed to affect weight gain among breast cancer survivors. Women who received chemotherapy treatment and now use statins gained an average of 10 pounds more than cancer-free women and cancer survivors who do not use statins.
The study also found a high prevalence of overweight participants who had a family history of breast cancer; 46.9 percent of breast cancer survivors and 55.1 percent of cancer-free women having a family history of breast cancer were overweight or obese.
The findings suggest that weight gain intervention may be beneficial at the time of chemotherapy and a person’s treatment team could help them monitor weight over the long term recovery process.