Weight gain during and after adjuvant chemotherapy, is becoming an ever-increasing significant concern. Women with breast cancer, for example, report a 45% incidence of significant weight gain often at a time in their lives when loosing it becomes difficult.
There are several reasons why patients, more often women, gain weight:
Chemotherapy tends to cause some mild nausea, which many report gets worse on an empty stomach resulting in regular snacking; with modern anti-sickness medications, unlike the past, nausea is seldom enough, apart from the first few days to stop people eating. Many oncology units and information materials, however, still encourage patients to eat more as a throw back to days where vomiting and weight loss was normal.
Steroids are usually given with chemotherapy drugs which encourage a strong appetite and increased fat deposition.
With the fatigue and disruption of their daily routine regular exercise is reduced putting further pressure on the pounds!
Hormone therapies such as tamoxifen aromatase inhibitors and zoladex can also cause weight gain and unlike chemotherapy are usually given for many years after initial surgery.
Finally but of equal importance is the attitude of patients to food during treatments. Many people have had to be careful with their calories before they even get their diagnosis. Unfortunately, this tends to go out the window after their diagnosis – “dammed if I’m going to diet now I’ve got cancer!”
The trick is not
to put on weight in the first place, but of course this is easier said than
done, if we were all perfect we would not be human. Nevertheless despite the daunting task ahead, whatever the
reasons and whenever you’re hoping to slim down it is never too late. The lifestyle section provides further
advice on diet after cancer but the
highlights some salient tips.
Tips for eating fewer calories:
Avoid faddy diets
Distract yourself from thinking about food
Avoid processed food
Eat less fatty foods e.g. deep fried
Avoid pastries, pies
Cut fat off meat
Eat less meat more fish
Eat a large salad with every meal
Reduce alcohol intake
Try not to eat 3 hours before bed
Try not to snack between meals
Avoid food from lunch to evening meal
Burning up the
calories with regular daily exercise not only helps to loose weight but
published interventional studies have demonstrated significant improvement in
body fat and lean mass indices. Likewise, exercise improves bone mineral
density, muscle strength and walking distance, all potential risk factors post
chemotherapy. Tips on how to exercise after cancer are described in detail
in a separate advice sheet within the lifestyle section.
Helpful resources and links
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|Micro-nutrient testing Empower yourself to make dietary choices specific to your personal make up. This Cancer Risk Nutritional Profile, analyses your blood profile and recommends specific dietary and supplement advice to ensure you have the best possible nutritional status to fight cancer an aid recovery from treatments....read more|
|Download a free chapter describing how to avoid cancer forming chemicals (Carcinogens) in our diet and environments from the new edition of the best selling evidence based book "Lifestyle after Cancer - the facts"|
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|Protect your nails during chemotherapy. Nails can become painful and disfigured during and after chemotherapy. We describe the latest nail care guidelines and number of useful tips to keep them healthy, including cooling and moisturizing ...read more|
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|Look after your family after cancer - A diagnosis of cancer can cause a strain on family harmony. With emotions running high its not a good time to be upset further by destructive arguments. This practical little book has identified the situations where arguments are most likely to happen and provides simple tips to navigate around them...download £1.99|
|Lifestyle and cancer - the facts. This 2011, edition with a foreword from Paula Radcliffe has been extensively re-written with evidence from the latest research from around the world which demonstrates how diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can; help avoid cancer (read chapter 9 free), cope with treatments side effects; slow the rate of progression of cancer and help prevent relapse. This comprehensive essential lifestyle guidebook can be ordered online (£8.95), or downloaded via kindle|
|Prepared for cancer treatments. Patients and professionals, teamed up with Sue Lawley to produce this 21 minute film which explains chemotherapy & radiotherapy while you watch patients, describing their experiences, side effects and methods to alleviate them. Awarded the NHS communication prize ... read more / order individually or in bulk for your oncology department|
|Keep-healthy.com Practical evidence based advice on healthy living including ways to naturally reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, keep healthy eyesight, hearing, maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness. Includes advice on supplements and other useful products...link|
|Support groups and self help organisations throughout the UK and internationally. Links to Asian support organisations; Read patient stories, poems and links to the Cancer active website addressing a wide range of complementary issues related to cancer and their a quarterly magazine (ICON).. submit a link to your group|
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