Breast cancer can lead to weight gain

Women diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer could be at risk of significant weight gain, according to a new US study. 

Chemotherapy treatment could be part of the problem, researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found. 

Women given the treatment are more than twice as likely to put on at least 11lb over 5 years, as those without cancer, they claim.


Pay attention to weight gain

Doctors are now calling for patients and physicians to monitor weight gain more closely among people who have the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Kala Visvanathan wants a longer follow-up period after treatment to check patients’ weight.

She is also calling for more information to be available to cancer patients about the metabolic changes taking place in their bodies.

Co-author Amy Gross raised concerns over the effects of the weight gain, warning it could lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.


The link to chemotherapy

The study found those who were diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years before the start of the investigation put on 3.81lb more than those without cancer.

Of those treated with chemotherapy, 21% gained at least 11lb in extra weight.

The doctors behind the research are unsure as to why this treatment led to increased weight gain. They suggest chemotherapy could promote inflammation and disrupt metabolism.

It is also understood those receiving the treatment are less likely to be physically active, which could account for some of the gain.

Dr Visvanathan is now looking for any biochemical changes in the women to explain the higher weight gain.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.


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