Weight loss interventions for breast cancer survivors: impact of dietary pattern

PLoS One. 2015 May 26;10(5):e0127366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127366. eCollection 2015.


Body weight management is not emphasized in clinical practice guidelines for breast cancer survivors, reflecting the lack of evidence that weight loss improves prognosis. Even if this situation changes, the optimal design for weight loss interventions is unclear. We conducted a 6-month non-randomized, controlled weight loss intervention in 249 post-menopausal breast cancer survivors. This paper reports effects on two secondary endpoints, change in body weight and composition. Participants were predominantly non-Hispanic whites (89%) with a mean age of 54.9 ± 9.2 years, a mean BMI of 29.0 ± 2.6 kg/m: (2) and an average of 43 ± 5% body fat. Two dietary interventions, low fat or low carbohydrate, were investigated and consisted of a 42 day cycle of menus and recipes. Weight loss counseling and anthropometric assessment were provided at monthly clinic visits. One hundred ninety-two women completed the trial (77% retention). In comparison to the nonintervention control, both intervention arms achieved significant decreases in body weight (12.5%), body fat (27.5%), waist circumference (9.5%), and hip circumference (7.8%) (all p < 0.001) with minimal effects on lean mass (1.3% decrease). Median time to 5 and 10% weight loss was 2 (95% confidence interval = 1 to 3) and 4 (95% confidence interval = 3 to 5) months, respectively, and 23% of participants experienced ≥ 15% weight loss. Loss of body weight and fat mass was rapid and substantial irrespective of dietary approach when a structured program was provided with monthly anthropometric assessment and weight loss counseling.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01315483.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted / methods
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Survivors
  • Waist Circumference / physiology
  • Weight Loss / physiology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01315483

Grant support

This work was supported in part by a gift from the Glendorn Foundation and by PHS Grant CA126704 from the National Cancer Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.