What is weight gain?
Weight gain is an abnormal increase in overall body weight that can result in obesity. It is a common side effect of some cancers and cancer treatments. More than half of people with breast cancer gain weight during their treatment. It is linked to a poorer chance of recovery. Being overweight before treatment begins can also increase the risk of health problems. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems.
Some types of weight gain are related to a natural process rather than a disease. When you reach middle and older ages, it is a common symptom as your metabolism slows, unless this is countered by conscientiously eating less than you did when you were younger as well as getting adequate exercise to burn the excess calories you consume.
How bad is my weight gain?
Mild: 5 – <10% from baseline
Moderate: 10 – <20% from baseline
Severe: =20% from baseline
How to manage mild weight gain?
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit fat, sugar, and refined flour.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use healthier cooking methods whenever possible.
- Regular physical activity (walking or bicycling) can be helpful during and after cancer treatment.
- Explore exercise classes designed for people diagnosed with cancer.
- Try strength-building exercises if you have lost muscle.
How to manage moderate to severe symptoms?
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
- Absent or diminished pulses
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
What are the causes?
- Chemotherapy can lead to excess weight by causing edema, fatigue, increasing nausea, triggering intense food cravings, and lowering your metabolism.
- Steroids prescribed during cancer treatment can lead to excess weight by: increasing appetite, decreasing muscle mass, and increasing fat tissue in the abdomen, neck, face, or other areas with long-term use.
- Hormonal therapy can decrease the amount of certain hormones (estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone). Decreasesed hormone levels can increase fat, decrease muscle, and make it harder to burn calories.
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