Diet, Breast Cancers, Childhood Cancers: The Latest on Survivorship Research

I recently came back from a symposium of registered dietitians who specialize in cancer and nutrition, where there was a lot of exciting research presented on cancer survivorship.Mid section of female physiotherapist assisting senior woman to

Some presentations were highly technical – covering interactions of particular chemotherapy drugs with nutrition and updated tips for use of feeding tubes and pancreatic enzymes, for example. Take-home nuggets of broader interest include:

Effects of weight loss in breast cancer survivors: Overweight and obese breast cancer survivors who lost weight through moderate changes in eating choices combined with regular physical activity lowered levels of insulin and estrogens, both of which can promote cancer development. Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD, showed evidence suggesting even five percent weight loss (about eight pounds for a 160-pound woman) may be enough to improve outcome. (Here’s a webinar that Dr. Rock and I presented on Diet and Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship.)

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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