DENVER (CBS4) – Can losing weight prevent a recurrence of breast cancer? Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center are trying to find the answer through a long-term study.
Many breast cancer survivors battle weight gain as a side effect. They get fatigued and depressed. The study is designed to see if losing that weight can ultimately help them with side effects and survival.
“You don’t know how bad you feel untill you start feeling better”, said Dee Riedel, a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
Riedel has had surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She gained weight during treatment.
“I got up to a heavier weight than I had ever been,” Riedel said.
In 2007 she was part of a small pilot study to see if breast cancer survivors could lose the extra pounds.
“The odds are against them,” said Kim Gorman, a registered dietician with the University of Colorado Denver and one of the researchers. They’ve lost so much lean muscle tissue. The lean muscle tissue is what burns so many calories minute by minute through the course of the day.”
In the study Riedel counted calories and steps for six months. She attended weekly meetings with 20 other survivors. She lost 30 pounds.
“I feel great. My blood pressure is low, my cholesterol is down, my BMI is good,” Riedel said.
The cancer hasn’t come back. Now the researchers are on to a much larger study to see how sustained weight loss for survivors will impact hot flashes, depression and fatigue.
According to Gorman, the ultimate goal is: “We’re trying to find out if sustained weight loss can reduce the recurrence of breast cancer.”
So far, so good for Riedel.
“You know, you’ve had an assault to your body and to regain it back this way with all the support you can get, I don’t think there’s anything better,” Riedel said.
University of Colorado researchers are looking for about 200 breast cancer survivors to be part of the study. They’ll be assigned to a group — either one with meetings or one that’s more individual. The program is free.
The e-mail for more information is firstname.lastname@example.org or call the ENERGY study coordinator at (303) 724-5683.
– By Kathy Walsh, CBS4 Reporter and Health Specialist