How Cancer Treatments Affect Metabolism, Weight Gain, Weight Loss

How Cancer Treatments Affect Metabolism, Weight Gain, Weight Loss

During active treatment, patients may need to adjust their nutritional intake and physical activity level to ease the symptoms and side effects of cancer and treatment. Following chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, patients often experience metabolic changes, such as weight gain.

Breast cancer and prostate cancer therapies, in particular, can slow metabolism and contribute to weight gain. Steroids may lead to inflammation and weight gain.

Other factors — such as immobility following surgery, fatigue and even depression — can cause patients to gain weight.

Reducing Long-Term Effects

A healthy body mass index (BMI) is essential to reducing your risk of cancer. You can achieve a healthy BMI by balancing the energy you consume with the energy you expend. For most people, weight loss occurs by decreasing calorie intake and increasing physical activity.

To combat the long-term effects of cancer, survivors should:

  • Maintain a BMI between 18.5 and 24.8.
  • Eat a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains.
  • Strive for 75 minutes of rigorous physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Try finding an activity you love, like walking, hiking, cycling or playing a sport.

If losing weight is overwhelming or too difficult to tackle independently, ask your doctor about City of Hope’s weight-reduction clinic and certified nutritionists.

The information provided here is specifically for cancer survivors — who have completed active treatment — and have discussed with their doctor if it is safe to resume or increase their previous physical activities and nutritional practices.

If you are unsure that the suggestions are appropriate for you, please first discuss them with your doctor before making any changes.