More on “Do I have to gain weight on Tamoxifen”?
Posted April 4, 2011on:
The fear of more weight gain weighs too heavily on most women when the face the list of side effects of Tamoxifen. I dug around a bit to answer the question “What is the average weight gain on Tamoxifen.”
Source: Random people on the internet
There are many blogs and discussion groups with people discussing out of control weight gain while taking Tamoxifen. These people often list gaining 25 pounds or more and unable to make it stop. From what I can glean, these are often people who have never had to watch their weight before or those who have routinely had problems controlling their weight.
Most people, I think, know the difference between junk foods and healthy foods, but are startled when they can no longer depend on life long habits to maintain a preferred weight. I felt chubby as a teenager, so learned all the caloric values for everything at an early age, then earned a degree in nutrition (among other things) when I graduated from university. I forget sometimes that most people have not had this extensive training in how the body metabolizes food.
Our metabolism changes as we get older. Many women gain weight during menopause… usually in their 40’s or 50’s. If you are being treated for breast cancer during this time, this effect is magnified.
During cancer treatment, many don’t realize the changes in minute-to-minute activities of daily life. Sitting more, walking around less, doing fewer things due to fatigue without adjustments to the diet easily lead to weight gain, even though it feels like nothing else has changed. Most of our energy is expended through tiny movements… even fidgeting can be enough to keep weight down.
Source: A university study
” A meanweight gain of 1.2 Kgs was seen in all [Breast cancer] patients; however, weight gain was not significantly different for those receiving tamoxifen vs. those not receiving tamoxifen, ”
This study looked specifically at weight gain caused by Tamoxifen and weight gain in general during breast cancer treatment. They found an average weight gain of 2.65 pounds in all patients. Those taking chemotherapy tended to gain the most weight.
I think this is very significant to know that the average gain is just a few pounds, not these 25 pound+ values plastered across the ‘net.
Other conclusions from this study:
- Age at diagnosis had a correlation to weight gain in all groups.
- The moderate weight gain observed in patients is about the same as weight gain among disease-free people the same age.
Other interesting comments from medical doctors:
“Weight gain can be a side effect of tamoxifen and this is sometimes due to water retention but at other times a consequence of a eating more either due to a increased appetite or mild nausea – “to settle the stomach” .
“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!” “
What about Uterine Cancer?
Finally, the other most scary side-effect of Tamoxifen is possibility of uterine cancer. A friend of mine contacted three medical doctors who are personal friends for advice on Tamoxifen… All three came back with resounding “Take it”. They all mention that the risks of uterine cancer are very small.
As for all women, one key sign of problems is bleeding at unexpected times. If this happens, don’t wait until your next checkup, go immediately to your oncologist to investigate. It’s all about early detection.
“Weight gain associated with adjuvant tamoxifen therapy in stage I and II breast cancer: fact or artifact?” N.B. Kumar, K. Allen, A. Cantor, C.E. Cox, H. Greenberg, S. Shah and G.H. Lyman, H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center, University of South Florida, 1997
Weight gain (and Cancer Treatments) from Cancernet.uk. Interesting article looking at causes of weight gain and ways to combat it.
Tamoxifen from Cancernet.uk. Description of all aspects of Tamoxifen.