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Weight gain causes breast cancer?

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and am finishing up 33 days of radiation and will then go on an estrogen blocker drug. Not sure which one yet. I quit smoking three years ago and went from a size 8 to a size 14 in no time. I asked my radiation oncologist if this is why I got breast cancer. She didn't say yes, or no, but told me that estrogen lives in fat cells (my tumor was estrogen positive). So now I'm on a quest to lose these 25 pounds so it doesn't come back. Exercise is not my friend so that's what I'm working on now. Any comments.

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2121
Joined: Jun 2010

No one knows what causes breast cancer. You radiation oncologist should have replied to you instead of allowing you to feel guilty. Fat cells along with many other places have estrogen.

No matter what you read, it isn't a known fact yet, what the cause of breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the oldest recorded disease, 2500 years. The world has seen many over weight people in those years and all did not develop breast cancer.

Please don't feel guilty that you in any way caused your breast cancer. I do want you to know that a lot of hormonal drugs do cause weight gain in some women. I had gained weight on Tamoxifen and when I went on Arimidex, I decided to try to regain my pre-breast cancer weight. I walked several miles each day and ate moderately and in less than 6 months I was back in my pre cancer clothes. You can do it too. I don't like calisthenic exercises, so I did what I enjoyed, walking, water aerobics and dancing. Find something you enjoy doing and in no time, you will at a weight you feel good being.

Best wishes,

Doris

roseann4
Posts: 994
Joined: Sep 2009

I was 58 when diagnosed with ER positive stage 1 breast cancer. I had gained 30 lbs after menopause. My doctor told me that my risk for getting bc was increased by weight gain at menopause. She sais that the more years we are exposed to estrogen the higher the risk. After menopause, the only place we make estrogen is in the fat cells. By gaining weight, I increased my estrogen exposure. I have now lost the weight and was told that reduces my chance of recurrence. Fingers crossed. I can't control most things but I can control my weight/fat cells.

Roseann

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks, Roseann,

You are so right in that I can control my weight. I've started and am dong ok with it. The week before I was diagnosed I got a part-time job in retail. It's constant moving but I think it's not been enough. I shall step it up. I do not want a recurrence that's for sure.

Jeanne

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2121
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Roseann,

Hormones are produced by the adrenal gland after menopause. That is why for those of us whose tumors were ER or PR positive are given hormonal drugs to turn off the production of hormones.

Best,

Doris

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks,Doris. It's good to be forewarned about weight gain and hormonal drugs. I find out next week which one I'll be taking. I know it won't be Tamoxifen.

Regards,

Jeanne

salls41's picture
salls41
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2012

I also quit smoking 3 years before my dx. I also went up several sizes! however my cancer is not hormone related. I don't think they can say what causes each individuals cancer, it just is. There are things that we may all have in common, but I do not believe that weight gain CAUSES cancer.
Sandy

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks, Sandy.

I have been under a lot of stress for the last year since my husband was very ill. So I was blaming that and then was told it could be weight gain. I am, and always have been very upbeat. Even through all the stress there was lots of laughter, some of it sick humor but pretty funny.

I have come to the conclusion that I don't know what caused my cancer and as of right now it doesn't matter. What matters is looking forward to being finished with radiation on Wednesday, starting whatever drug I am going to take and continuing to enjoy life. I'm still working and that is really good for me. Gets me outside of myself.

Jeanne

GrandmaJ's picture
GrandmaJ
Posts: 208
Joined: Nov 2009

I have two friend who have breast cancer and they were very thin when diagnosed, so I can't believe cancer is caused only by fat cells. Just remember hormone blocking agents such as Arimidex and Femara are known to cause weight gain in some patients. I am proof of that as are my two "used to be skinny" friends. Good luck.

Judy

roseann4
Posts: 994
Joined: Sep 2009

What concerned me was that in 2 years I will be taken off Arimidex. If I stayed significantly overweight there would be nothing stopping my fat cells from producing estrogen. My onc did not know the answer. My friend is a 7 year survivor of stage 2 ER positive bc. She recently gained weight and her onc was very concerned because she was no longer on Arimidex. Why are we not routinely given nutricianal guidance. I was up 30 pounds and no one cared! Makes me crazy!

Roseann

roseann4
Posts: 994
Joined: Sep 2009

Check out the free website I found to help us lose weight. It is MyFitnessPal.com. I started using it on Monday. Keeps me honest.

Roseann

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

My oncologists (radiation and medical) have a nutritionist that we are encouraged to meet with. We are given one free consultation and then it's up to each individual to continue. I'm very fortunate. Losing weight for me is essential, on more then one level. I was trying to lose the weight before I got bc. No easy feat.

Rague
Posts: 3285
Joined: Aug 2009

Some of us will be on 'drugs' forever - even without being Stage IV.

Last August (2 yrs post DX and 1 1/2 yrs on letrozole), Dr T. told me that the latest studies show that being IBC I would be on Femara/letrozole forever.

Our Adrenal Gland produces estrogen in women and men. It is in quite a few 'things' we eat also.

Weight loss can also be a problem for some of us. I know I'm in for a BIG lecture from Dr T. when I see him next month - I've lost 8 lbs since I saw him 6 mths ago. Still within the weight I should be for age/height (just barely) and know it's my increased activity level to 'blame' but will still get a 'reaming out'.

Winyan - The Power Within

Susan

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2121
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Judy,

You are correct that skinny people also have breast cancer. This disease has no regards to sex, age, size, status or anything else. One can be male or female, age 10 (think I read this online, no sure if it was true and a lady I knew was 92 (we had surgery the same day at different hospitals), I have had skinny friends as well as those who are overweight diagnose with this disease, it doesn't care if you are rich, poor or between.

No one yet knows what "causes" breast cancer. We do know that one cells looses it's programming to die and then goes on to multiply non stop with copies of itself. After the initial growth, it needs nourishment, via blood, estrogen or some other source.

Someday, they will find the source of how to turn whatever continues to make it grow and turn it off forever.

Best,

Doris

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3604
Joined: May 2009

I can honestly say that I've never heard of this, but, who knows. All I can say is that I am thin, always have been, a size 6 and I got bc. From what you read anymore, almost everything causes bc. Thanks for starting this thread though. It is interesting.

Lex

Pershephone's picture
Pershephone
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks everyone, for you comments. Three more days of radiation and then on to the next step which I believe will be an estrogen blocking drug. Meanwhile the quest to lose some weight goes on.

Kristin N's picture
Kristin N
Posts: 1969
Joined: Mar 2009

I think congrats are in order as you should be a rad grad by now! Enjoy your free time!

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