- Question from Mimila: I have gained about 20 pounds during the past 2 years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I thought that one of the positive side effects from chemo and maybe radiation would be weight loss. Did not happen, just weight gain. Today, I am on Femara. I am having the hardest time losing weight even with heavy exercise. The results are very slow. Is this due to the Femara or is it just 60+ years of age making it harder to lose?
- Answers - Diana Dyer, M.S., R.D. Unfortunately weight gain is more common that weight loss with breast cancer patients. My best advice is, of course, to continue the exercise but to also seek the advice of a registered dietitian who can work with your oncology team to develop an individualized nutrition plan which may be what's needed to help you work through this plateau.
Jennifer Sabol, M.D., F.A.C.S.
I agree. Weight gain is something we all see to some degree, especially with chemotherapy. Sometimes it's because of the steroids that are given during treatment, but some of the anti-estrogen medications that are given after the chemotherapy seem to not allow you to lose weight as easily as you may have been used to. I also will tell patients to seek out a dietitian. There are often places in your diet where there are hidden calories that you may not realize are there, and with a little help you may be able to eliminate a few things and at least maintain weight if not lose further.
I had a patient who was told that the oil in peanuts and nuts in general was good for you, so she started going to the gym and as a snack, she would take a can of peanuts out of the case she kept in her car, and she was consuming 2-3 CANS of peanuts a day. When I told her the portion recommended was 5-6 nuts per serving, she almost fell off the table! She went to a dietitian and subsequently was able to lose a substantial amount of weight with her exercise regimen and a lack of peanuts!
- Diana Dyer, M.S., R.D. There is a great study that actually showed significant weight loss in breast cancer patients who combined the individualized approach developed by a dietitian with the support of a Weight Watchers group. The study looked at different combinations of groups, and it was only the group that had the individualized approach combined with the group support that lost the most weight and kept it off the longest.
- Jennifer Sabol, M.D., F.A.C.S. I think group support is very important when you're trying to lose weight, and it's support you can't always get at home.
- Diana Dyer, M.S., R.D. Especially during the holiday season when we're busier than ever, this may be the time to find a buddy or friend who is struggling with the same challenges, and you can support each other and befriend each other to get through this time.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Eating and Drinking Through the Holidays featured Diana Dyer, M.S., R.D. and moderator Jennifer Sabol, M.D. answering your questions about how to stay healthy during the most hectic, high-calorie time of year.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in November 2006.
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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