Weight loss intervention trials in women with breast cancer: a systematic review

Obes Rev. 2014 Sep;15(9):749-68. doi: 10.1111/obr.12190. Epub 2014 May 29.


Obesity has been associated with poor health outcomes in breast cancer survivors. Thus, weight loss is recommended for overweight and obese survivors. We systematically reviewed studies (published up to July 2013) that evaluated behaviourally based, weight loss interventions in women with breast cancer exclusively. Completed randomized trials, single-arm trials and ongoing trials were reviewed. Within-group and between-group differences for weight loss were extracted, as was data on secondary outcomes, i.e. clinical biomarkers, patient-reported outcomes, adverse events. Ten completed randomized trials, four single-arm trials and five ongoing trials were identified. Statistically significant within-group weight loss was observed over periods of 2 to 18 months in 13 of the 14 trials, with six randomized and two single-arm trials observing mean weight loss ≥5%. Clinical biomarkers, psychosocial and patient-reported outcomes were measured in a small number of studies. No serious adverse events were reported. Only two trials assessed maintenance of intervention effects after the end-of-intervention and none reported on cost-effectiveness. The studies included in this review suggest that weight loss is feasible to achieve and is safe in women following treatment for breast cancer. Future studies should assess (and be powered for) a range of biomarker and patient-reported outcomes, and be designed to inform translation into practice.

Keywords: Breast cancer survivors; lifestyle intervention; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survivors* / psychology
  • Survivors* / statistics & numerical data
  • Weight Loss*