Weight gain after diagnosis of breast cancer is linked to lower survival

Information from over twenty-three thousand women participating in different studies were combined to look at the relationship between weight gain after breast cancer diagnosis and risk of death or cancer returning. They found that a 5% weight gain after diagnosis was enough to slightly increase risk of dying, with a 10% weight gain adding even more risk.

What does this information mean to you, or how can you use it?

Women are more likely to gain weight after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment than non-cancer survivors. For a 160-pound woman, a 5% weight gain would be eight pounds, and a 10% weight gain would be 16 pounds.  So, as you can see, it doesn’t take a huge amount of weight gain to increase risk.  Moreover, since the average adult gains about a pound a year, this could creep up quickly. It should be no surprise that the American Cancer Society’s first recommendation for nutrition and physical activity is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

While many factors and obstacles lead to weight gain throughout adulthood, surviving cancer may be an opportunity to finally overcome some of those obstacles. By adopting healthy habits set forth in the American Cancer Society Guidelines, you will be on the right track to avoiding weight gain and increase your chances for living a longer, healthier life. The other three recommendations are: 1) Adopt a physically active lifestyle; 2) Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources (with limits on red and processed meats); and 3) If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.  This means no more than one drink a day if you are a woman and no more than two drinks a day if you are a man.



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