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World J Clin Oncol. 2014 Aug 10;5(3):272-82. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v5.i3.272.

Weight gain following breast cancer diagnosis: Implication and proposed mechanisms.

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Grace Makari-Judson, Barry Braun, D Joseph Jerry, Wilson C Mertens, The Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, Springfield, MA 01107, United States.


Weight gain occurs in the majority of women following breast cancer treatment. An overview of studies describing weight gain amongst women treated with early to modern chemotherapy regimens is included. Populations at higher risk include women who are younger, closer to ideal body weight and who have been treated with chemotherapy. Weight gain ranges between 1 to 5 kg, and may be associated with change in body composition with gain in fat mass and loss in lean body mass. Women are unlikely to return to pre-diagnosis weight. Possible mechanisms including inactivity and metabolic changes are explored. Potential interventions are reviewed including exercise, dietary changes and pharmacologic agents. Although breast cancer prognosis does not appear to be significantly impacted, weight gain has negative consequences on quality of life and overall health. Future studies should explore change in body composition, metabolism and insulin resistance. Avoiding weight gain in breast cancer survivors following initial diagnosis and treatment should be encouraged.


Breast cancer; Exercise; Insulin resistance; Survivorship; Weight gain

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