Published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention says that patients who get cancer treatment tend to gain weight. The study indicates that women who have suffered from breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy are more likely to gain weight compared to women of the same age who have not suffered from cancer.
The research team was led by associate professor of epidemiology Kala Visvanathan from Johns Hopkins and it focused on comparing weight gain in menopausal women using breast cancer as a comparison factor. The researchers analyzed 303 patients who survived breast cancer and 307 women who were cancer-free. They were all menopausal and had the same age.
The participants who did not suffer from cancer had a family history of ovarian and breast cancer and some of them even displayed the BCRA1/2 gene mutation which is known to trigger cancer.
All of the participants were required to answer a baseline survey known as T1 and three to four years afterwards they had to complete a follow-up questionnaire to track their weight gain. The findings of the research suggested that women with breast cancer had the tendency to gain weight faster and in greater magnitude when compared with the cancer-free women. Those in the cancer group who were diagnosed five years earlier before they took the T1 questionnaire gained around 3.81 pounds more than women who had no history of cancer. The participants who were diagnosed with a more severe form of cancer (estrogen receptor-negative invasive cancer) five years before the survey gained an average of 7.26 pounds more than participants who were cancer-free.
In addition women who had breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy were more than twice as likely to gain more than eleven pounds during a treatment of five years when compared to healthy women. In addition those women who used statins also had increased weight gain. Overall unlike the cancer-free counterparts women who had cancer had higher weight ranging from three to seven pounds.
“Overall we saw this increased weight gain, but then when we looked even closer we saw these were primarily in women who were having chemotherapy or had estrogen negative disease.”
She also said that the researchers will continue to monitor the women who suffered from cancer in order to observe whether the weight gain caused by chemotherapy will persist over time.
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