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


Analysis: Obesity Links to Earlier Mortality for Breast Cancer Survivors

A new study involving the emerging research on lifestyle’s role in breast cancer survivorship suggests that obesity — both before and after a breast cancer diagnosis — is associated with earlier death from cancer or other causes, compared to women at a healthy weight. Survivor

The paper was published yesterday in the Annals of Oncology. It adds to a complex and relatively new area of research: what survivors can do to lengthen life and stay healthy.

In a major report on breast cancer survivorship due this Fall, World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) expert panel will consider this latest paper as it works to shape official recommendations for cancer survivors. AICR is the US member of World Cancer Research Fund International.

The Annals of Oncology paper was written by a team of scientists involved in the CUP, including Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, Director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The paper found that “increased body size is significantly related to survival after a diagnosis of breast cancer…” said Dr. McTiernan. But the findings are not proof, she says, more research is needed. Continue reading


Study: Male Cancer Survivors Who are Active Live Longer

Research already shows that being active can reduce the risk of developing several cancers. Now comes a study that suggests for men, taking that brisk daily walk after a cancer diagnosis may lengthen your life.bigstock-Walking-2525305

The study was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, and it adds to a growing body of research suggesting that exercise can have significant health benefits for cancer survivors.

“The main take away message is that physical activity improves survival in men with cancer, says I-Min Lee, MD, ScD, an epidemiologist at the  Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

”There have been previous studies, examining survival in breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer patients, showing similar findings.  Our study included not only survivors of these cancers, but of other cancers “

For the study, Lee and her colleagues looked at data collected in 1988 from a group of about 1,000 male cancer survivors. On average the men had been diagnosed six years previously – in 1982. In 1988 the men reported on their activity habits.  They also answered questions about their weight, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and what foods they ate. The data was updated five years later. Continue reading