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It’s not good to be either underweight or overweight.
Eating too much can make you overweight, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Not eating as much food as your body needs can also affect your health.
If you’re underweight, or find it difficult to eat enough to maintain your weight, you might find our pages on building-up your diet| useful. You can also take a look at our section on recipes| where we have a number of tasty and nutritious treats.
Many people in the UK are heavier than the recommended weight for their height. And unfortunately, certain types of treatment for cancer, such as hormonal therapies or steroids, can cause weight gain. Losing weight can be difficult, but keeping a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Being overweight increases the risk of many types of cancer, including cancers of the bowel, kidney, womb, oesophagus (gullet) and breast cancer in women who have been through the menopause.
There’s also evidence that women who have breast cancer after the menopause may be able to reduce their risk of the cancer returning by keeping to a healthy body weight after treatment.
Try to keep your weight within the normal range for your height. Your GP can advise you on your ideal weight. If you’re concerned about your weight, get in touch with your GP or a dietitian for advice and support.
Be patient with yourself. Losing weight is a gradual process. It’s important to eat a balanced diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to keep your body healthy. It’s reasonable to aim to lose about 0.5–1kg (1–2lbs) a week.
There’s information and advice in our section on physical activity| during and after cancer treatment, including tips on getting started, links to local information and support groups, and a range of videos about moving more|.
You can also request a copy of our free Move More pack, which includes a printed copy our physical activity and cancer information, telling you everything you need to know about how to be more active and the benefits of doing so.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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