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Do You Lose Weight During Radiation Treatment For Breast Cancer
Tamoxifen is a medication that has been used to treat breast cancer for more than 30 years. Though linked to weight gain, most studies do not support the link.Tamoxifen is a type of hormone therapy known as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). One of the brand names for tamoxifen is Nolvadex.Tamoxifen works by attaching to the estrogen receptors in breast cells so that estrogen cannot bind to them. By preventing the estrogen in the breasts binding to the receptors, tamoxifen slows the growth and reproduction of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells.In 2013, the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggested using tamoxifen as an endocrine therapy that can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women aged 35 years and older.Some cancers are sensitive to particular hormones. This means that some hormones can cause cancerous cells to grow. Hormones that can affect cancer include estrogen and progesterone.Some cancer cells have estrogen receptors on them. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 80 percent of breast cancer tumors have estrogen receptors in their cells. Women may take tamoxifen to prevent, treat, or prevent recurrence of breast cancer.While tamoxifen is not the only medication used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer, it is a common one.One of the most extensive clinical studies related to tamoxifen and weight gain was the women’s healthy eating and living (WHEL) study. Published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the study examined more than 3,000 breast cancer survivors ages 27 to 74 who were taking tamoxifen or receiving chemotherapy treatments after their diagnosis.The researchers followed the women through 6 years of treatments. They found that receiving chemotherapy was associated with increased risks for weight gain, but that taking tamoxifen was not.Another article in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that hormonal treatments such as tamoxifen were not associated with significant weight gain after breast cancer treatments.Some written information about tamoxifen does list weight gain as a potential side effect. However, the research does not state that all women who take tamoxifen will gain weight.While doctors do not associate tamoxifen with causing weight gain, there are other side effects associated with taking the drug.These side effects can include:blood clotsdepressionhot flashesincreased risk of endometrial cancerirregular menstrual periodsmood swingsvaginal discharge or vaginal bleedingTaking tamoxifen may alter the effectiveness of some medications, just as some medications might affect how well tamoxifen works.This is because tamoxifen needs an enzyme called CYP2D6 to work properly. This enzyme turns the active ingredients in tamoxifen into a more usable form in the body. However, there are other medications that may affect the availability of CYP2D6 in the body. These medications may compete with tamoxifen for effectiveness in the body.Examples include:bupropion (Wellbutrin)duloxtine (Cymbalta)fluoxetine (Prozac)paroxetine (Paxil)quinidine (Cardioquin)sertraline (Zoloft)If a woman is taking any of these medications, she should talk to her doctor. As there are a range of medicines that can interfere with tamoxifen’s effectiveness, she should be sure to tell her doctor about all the medicines and herbal supplements she is taking.According to an article published in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology, women tend to gain anywhere from 2.2 to 11 pounds after breast cancer treatment.Some of the risk factors that are associated with increased weight gain after breast cancer treatment include:having chemotherapy or radiation as breast cancer treatmentslower BMI at breast cancer diagnosispremenopausal statusyounger age at diagnosisAlthough the average weight gain associated with some breast cancer treatments is not always significant, the weight gain can cause some harmful effects.This is because excess fat tissue can create inflammatory compounds. These could potentially stimulate the growth or expansion of breast cancer cells.Why might weight gain happen when treating breast cancer?There are many reasons why a woman may experience weight gain as a result of breast cancer treatments beyond potential side effects of the medications she is taking.These include a reduction in physical activity as a result of feeling fatigued after recovering from surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation associated with breast cancer treatment.Also, as a woman ages, her metabolism naturally slows down, which can result in weight gain.Ways that a woman can live well and avoid weight gain or promote weight loss when undergoing breast cancer treatments include:Diet: Eating a healthful diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, or lean meats.Exercise: Engaging in exercise whenever possible. Even low-impact exercise can help, such as walking or practicing yoga.Lifestyle changes: Practicing self-care techniques that can help a person relieve stress and feel physically better. These include meditation, journaling, or practicing tai chi.Tamoxifen has helped many women beat breast cancer and extend their lives. According to the National Cancer Institute, taking tamoxifen for 5 years has been shown to reduce the risks of breast cancer recurrence and death at 15 years for those diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.If a woman has any concerns over weight gain related to taking tamoxifen, she should talk to her doctor. There are often many support systems available to help a woman live a healthy life with breast cancer.
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How to Lose Weight After Cancer Treatment | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
For more information, recipes, and tips, and to watch more videos on Eating Well During Cancer, visit http://www.dana-farber.org/eatingwell.
It’s not uncommon to gain weight during or after cancer treatment. Weight gain may be a result of a combination of factors, including disease- or treatment-induced hormonal effects or changes. But unwanted weight gain can be managed, and even reversed, by following some simple, healthy eating and activity guidelines outlined here by Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy.
I’m Stacy Kennedy, a nutrition specialist for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Welcome to Eating Well During Cancer. Today I’d like to talk with you about maintaining a healthy weight during and after cancer treatment, and specifically how to manage unwanted weight gain.
It is not uncommon to actually gain excessive or unwanted weight during certain types of cancer treatment. For example, we see this with some types of breast cancer, where research shows a woman may gain in one year the amount of body fat she would typically gain over the course of ten years. Sometimes men going through prostate cancer treatment or men or women going through treatment for colon cancer may also experience unwanted weight gain.
It can be like a perfect storm of things happening. You may be a little bit less active, because you’re feeling fatigued. Food choices might be altered, either because of symptom management or eating more comfort foods for coping. And then there’s aspects of the disease itself or the treatment that can all come together and set the stage for gaining some extra weight.
But don’t worry—this extra weight can come off by following some simple, healthy eating and activity guidelines. When it comes to healthy eating, following a schedule, where you’re not skipping any meals and snacks and you’re eating through the day, can be a big help. On top of that, choosing healthy foods in a combination or proportion to set you up for success is another great way to manage this weight gain.
For example, if we take a look at this plate here, we’ll see that we have half of our plate as vegetables—we’ve got some nice, delicious broccoli. And then we have a quarter of our plate as a whole grain—our example here today is quinoa. Now, quinoa is also high in fiber, which can help manage hunger. It’s also high in iron, which is important for a healthy body, and also high in protein, which can also—like the fiber—help with hunger. Beyond our quarter quinoa, we’ve got another quarter of our plate as a healthy, lean protein. Our example today is wild salmon.
This combination can help you to feel full and prevent overeating, while at the same time nourishing your body with a lot of immune-supporting nutrients, which can also help to manage hunger as well.
So, for more recipes and great tips for maintaining a healthy weigh, I encourage you to visit our website or download our free app. On behalf of Dana-Farber, I’m Stacy Kennedy.
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