Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 2000; 24(Supplement 1).

Weight gain in breast cancer patients on chemotherapy: Exploring hormonal, body composition and behavioral mechanisms

NB Kumar PhD, D Riccardi RD MPH, K Allen RD, A Cantor PhD, P Jacobsen PhD, J Horton MD, S Minton MD, L Balducci MD, G Lyman MD 1

1 H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa FL, USA,

AIMS: The purpose of the study is to observe the contribution of thyroid function, sex-hormonal levels, physical activity, psychological state and nutritional intake on changes in body weight in breast cancer patients, receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. METHODS: Women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy were observed for changes in weight, body composition, physical activity, nutritional intake, fatigue, sex-hormones, thyroid hormones and coping during treatment. RESULTS: Fifty-three subjects completed the study. Preliminary results indicate that the average age of this cohort was 48.96 years, 43.9% were smokers, 48% had a family history of breast cancer, 56% reported increased fatigue and 55% gained weight during chemotherapy. Hyperphagia was observed during treatment, with percent fat intake increasing from 26% to 30.2% by the end of therapy. However, we observed a significant decrease in the average hours worked from 33.4 hours per week to 12.7 hours by the end of therapy. Fifty-five percent of the subjects were pre-menopausal at baseline, but all patients were amenorrheic at the completion of therapy with 72.5% showing a significant decrease in serum total estradiol post therapy. Thyroxine-binding-globulin levels were elevated in 68.8% of the subjects after therapy while Triiodothyronine-3 uptake levels were decreased indicative of lowered thyroid function. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the preliminary observations, weight gain in breast cancer patients may be a phenomenon resulting from hormonal and lifestyle changes, thus providing an opportunity for prevention and improving prognosis.

KEY WORDS: Adjuvant Chemotherapy, weight gain, hormones, body composition, energy balance.

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Impact of Biotechnology on Cancer Diagnostic & Prognostic Indicators; Geneva, Switzerland; October 28 - 31, 2000; in the section on chemotherapy & chemoprevention.