Obesity and Breast Cancer Survival: Talking with Anne McTiernan

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update highlights a new analysis of the research suggesting that obesity links to poorer survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The research adds to a complex and evolving field of research on lifestyle and survivorship.Tiernan photo

The findings in this paper add to the body of knowledge, but they are not proof that weight loss in overweight or obese women will improve survival, says Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, one of the authors of the new paper and a Continuous Update Project expert panelist.

Here, Dr. McTiernan — the Director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — talks about the study and what it means for breast cancer survivors.

Q: This study is the first to look at BMI pre- and post-diagnosis, and 12 months following diagnosis. Why was it important to look at these three points?

A: While it’s interesting to know what effect BMI before diagnosis has, women want to know what they can do now, for their future. So it’s important to look at the post-diagnosis period. Continue reading


I Saw It on TV… Weight-Loss Myths Women Hear

With AICR’s new report showing for the first time that obesity is linked to ovarian cancer, there are now even more reasons for women to maintain a healthy body weight. I’ve already written about challenges women face when it comes to weight loss, and a recent blog by Colby describes some of the many nutrition myths surrounding cancer risk.iStock_000004672120Small

To help women reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, getting to a healthy weight matters. Let’s look at a few of the many weight loss myths I hear daily from women:

1.    “I heard on Dr. Oz…” This is the start of many conversations I have with patients. It is usually followed by some supplement (e.g. garcinia cambogia) that “leads to weight loss.” There are usually few studies supporting the weight loss benefits of these supplements, potential risks or side effects from taking the supplement, and there is ALWAYS the caveat that a healthy diet and physical activity are needed for it to work. Continue reading


Making it Easier for Kids to Eat Whole Grains

Research shows many reasons why it’s important for kids to eat a diet rich in whole grains. Whole grains can help your kids – and you – maintain a healthy weight. And as your kids become older, whole grains can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and diet-related cancers.Wheat ears in the child hands

Recent research that I have collaborated on through the CHANGE Study suggests that children who ate more than 1.5 servings of whole grains every day had a 40 percent less risk of being obese than children who did not consume whole grains.

Yet only about 5 percent of American adults and children eat the recommended servings of whole grains every day and not all whole-grain products are good or excellent sources of dietary fiber. There are a lot of positive developments in what food companies and others to help kids get more whole grains. But there is still more progress that we can make in three main settings.

Marketplace: Changes made by food companies that have reformulated ready-to-eat breakfast cereal products, combined with new school nutrition policies and healthier meals served at home, will collectively make it easier for children to consume the recommended three servings of whole grains every day. Continue reading