Weight loss increases chance of recurrence?

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Question from U and Me: Is it true that after having breast cancer you should not try to lose weight as it can increase your risk of getting a recurrence?
Answers - Cyndi Thomson, Ph.D., R.D. There's about a threefold increased risk of recurrence in women who are overweight (20 pounds above the recommended body weight). For women, a quick rule of thumb is 100 pounds for the first 5 feet and 5 to 6 pounds per inch for the height above 5 feet. So if you were 5'5", it would be 100 pounds plus 25-30 pounds for a total weight of about 125-130 pounds.

These weight-for-height recommendations do not change with age other than we lose height with age. However, few breast cancer patients, or women overall, are able to sustain the same body weight throughout adulthood, although ideally this would be the goal. After treatment, if you are overweight or if you have gained weight during treatment, it is important to try and achieve a healthier body weight. It's just as important to try and optimize your body composition—in other words, drop the fat and keep the muscle. This can be done by increasing physical activity while eating your healthy diet.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Nutrition and Weight featured Cyndi Thomson, Ph.D., R.D. and Marisa Weiss M.D. answering your questions about nutrition and weight.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2005.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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