It’s estimated 1 out of every 3 cancers in the United States are linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition, or physical inactivity. You may find your weight changing throughout your treatment because you stop being active, you eat for comfort or your treatments cause you to gain weight.
Since being overweight seems to have the strongest evidence linking it to cancer and the risk of it coming back its important to maintain an ideal body weight. Excess weight may influence your cancer risk by affecting:
- How your body processes fats and sugars
- How your immune system functions
- Your levels of certain hormones, such as insulin and estrogen
- Factors that regulate cell division
- Proteins that influence how your body uses certain hormones
It is especially important for breast cancer patients to maintain an ideal body weight since extra body fat can encourage estrogen production, which in turn can trigger breast cancer cell growth.
What is body weight?
Basically, your body weight consists of lean mass (bones, muscles, tissues, fluids and organs) and fat mass. You need both. However, too much body fat has been associated with increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Too little body fat has been associated with malnutrition and osteoporosis.
Cancer treatments often affect your weight. You may not see a change on the scale; however you may have had muscle loss and fat gain due to your treatments. Having your body fat measurements taken can help you determine an ideal body weight. Take your measurements every couple of months and record them on the Fitness Results Sheet for future reference.