While breast cancer is the number one cancer amongst Indian women–there’s very little awareness about its prevention and after-effects. Breast cancer is an epidemic and there are a lot of reasons to worry its threat. Because while it is an ordeal to deal with, it’s after-effects are quite trouble unpleasant too.
The after-effects of any chronic disease are not very pleasant and in this condition, a significant increase in weight is one of them. It may also include pain and numbness, headaches, and dental issues to name a few.
A recent study published in the journal BMC Cancer suggests that women suffering from breast cancer experience weight gain after the development of the disease. The astonishing findings suggest that significant weight gain post breast cancer is a greater problem than previously thought.
The national survey in Australia conducted with breast cancer survivors found that 63.7% of women actually suffered from weight gain at an average of nine kilograms after a breast cancer diagnosis; and overall nearly 17% gained more than 20 kilograms.
Researchers from NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and ICON Cancer Centre, Sydney Adventist Hospital, Wahroonga, surveyed 309 women with breast cancer living in Australia between November 2017 and January 2018. The sample mainly consisted of members of Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).
Also, read: A cup of cinnamon water a day can keep the weight gain away. Here’s how you can brew it
Dr Ee, general practitioner and senior research fellow at NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University said that about 77 per cent of surveyed women reported gaining weight within the first 12-18 months after diagnosis.
Dr Ee added:
Along with significant weight gain, we also found high levels of concern about weight among our survey participants. Timing may be the key in helping women to manage weight after a diagnosis of breast cancer
“Cancer services and general practitioners play an important role in having early conversations with women, and referring them to a team of qualified healthcare professionals such as dieticians and exercise physiologists with experience in cancer,” she said.
The survey also noted that the proportion of women who were overweight or obese increased from 48% at time of diagnosis to 67% at the time of the survey.
“As doctors, we really need to actively think about weight, nutrition, and exercise and advise about possible interventions. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and weight gain is common after breast cancer treatment,” said another researcher, Professor Boyages.
“Many patients assume they will lose weight. Weight gain adds to self-esteem problems, increases the risk of heart disease and other cancers and several reports suggest it may affect prognosis and also increases the risk of arm swelling (lymphoedema). Prescribing a healthy lifestyle is just as important as prescribing tablets.”
Dr Ee further added that after the diagnosis of breast cancer, many women experience fatigue, which can be a barrier to staying active, and studies show exercise is an effective treatment for fatigue. However, for this to be feasible, she says supervision by an experienced exercise physiologist is invaluable.
“For many breast cancer survivors, the cost of accessing the expertise of these specialists puts them beyond their reach. We want a system that helps women and men diagnosed with breast cancer to come out and be able to move on with their life, not be crushed by the experience,” said BCNA CEO Kristen Pilatti.
The researchers are now set to examine the survey data next to further investigate the reasons why women are gaining weight after breast cancer.
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