Women who develop and beat breast cancer may get rid of one struggle and move on to another: obesity. A new study has found that breast cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, may cause patients to gain weight. What’s more, the effects can last up to five (5) years after treatment has stopped.
Dr. Kala Visvanathan, lead researcher and associate professor with an expertise in epidemiology over at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore), gave a statement to CBS News saying that “Substantial increases in weight can impact breast cancer progression and can impact whether or not they get other chronic diseases”.
She went on to add that even though people usually forget this, the majority of breast cancer patients do not actually die from breast cancer, but rather from other diseases. She stressed that those things are very important to monitor as well.
The study was inspired by an observation made by experts at the Cancer Center from Johns Hopkins: breast cancer survivors have a tendency to gain weight.
Indeed, the research has found that women who underwent breast cancer treatment that involved chemotherapy gained more weight than women who never had cancer and shared their age. Weight gain can lead to number of medical problems such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease. But the question was “why?”. There wasn’t a lot of preexistent research that could offer any answers.
The team started a two-part study that lasted over the course of (4) years. They looked at 600 women who were identified as having a high risk of developing breast cancer because of their family history of the disease. There were two (2) groups of subject – 303 of them were women who had been diagnosed and treated for the disease, and 307 of them were women who were at risk of developing breast cancer and had not been diagnosed with the disease.
The subjects were given their first survey regarding their cancer status, treatment methods and current weigh at the beginning of the study, and a second survey a year after, or even later.
The results showed that, when compared to healthy women, women who underwent chemotherapy treatment had twice the chance of gaining at least eleven (11) pounds in the next five (5) years. If the patient also took statins, she gained even more weight.
The researchers took into account factors such as age differences, hormonal cycles, and whether or not a patient has also suffered from ovarian cancer. They found that these factors did play a part, but that the main reasons were chemotherapy treatment and estrogen negative disease.
The working theory is that chemotherapy treatment might cause hormonal imbalance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informs that about 220.000 women in the United States get diagnosed with breast cancer on a yearly basis, and according to the National Cancer Institute 89 percent (89%) of all of them have a life expectancy of more than five (5) years, but a lot of them end up living long lives.
The study was published earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 15, 2015), in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
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