A recent study is no good news for breast cancer survivors. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found that women who were diagnosed with cancer and survived are more likely to gain some extra pounds than their cancer-free peers.
Moreover, the weight gain can hike their risk of diabetes and heart disease and may prompt cancer to reoccur.
The study involved over 300 breast cancer survivors who had agreed to take part in a larger study about women with a family history of genital and breast cancer.
Some participants were also diagnosed with two mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 that can highly boost cancer risk. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes play a key role in suppressing tumor growth. But if a mutation occurs, they can lead to hereditary breast cancer. Yet, according to a study, breast cancers caused by mutations in those two genes are quite rare – about 5 to 10 percent.
Dr. Amy Gross, lead-author of the study, noted that breast cancer survivors that underwent chemotherapy had the highest chance of gaining weight in the long run.
The new study suggests that on average breast cancer survivors usually gain 4 pounds more than their healthy peers in the first five years after they learned that they had cancer.
But those who had a form of tumor that didn’t feed on estrogen gained seven pounds more than women who were never diagnosed with breast cancer. However, if breast cancer patients went for chemotherapy, they gained even more pounds.
Researchers noted that chemotherapy patients had a double chance of gaining at least 11 pound in the first five years following the diagnosis.
Dr. Kala Visvanathan, co-author of the study and cancer doctor at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that her team had no idea why chemotherapy made things worse. They can only speculate that the procedure can trigger some metabolic changes that make women more prone to weight gain.
Additionally, scientists don’t have a valid explanation yet why tumors that do not require estrogen to grow, the so called ER negative cancers, are linked to more weight gain.
Nevertheless, the research team cautioned that in all cases the extra pounds not only can expose the woman to diabetes and heart disease risk, but they can also make cancer return.
So, breast cancer survivors should keep a close watch on their weight and be aware that they are more likely of gaining some pounds in the aftermath of the diagnosis.
Image Source: Pop-Sugar
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