Weight gain

After breast cancer treatment some women find that they have gained weight. This can happen because:

  • chemotherapy and other treatments can bring on the menopause, and weight gain is a symptom of this
  • steroids cause weight gain and are often given with chemotherapy
  • hormonal therapy, which is usually given for a number of years, can also cause weight gain
  • during treatment, women are less likely to be active.

Losing weight can be difficult. Even trying to keep to a healthy weight is sometimes hard. But there are lots of benefits to keeping to a healthy weight. It reduces the risk of getting heart problems and other illnesses such as diabetes. There’s evidence that keeping to a healthy weight after the menopause helps reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back.

What you can do to help manage your weight

Try to keep your weight within the normal range for your height. Your GP can advise you on your ideal weight. Ask your GP or a dietitian for advice and support.

Reduce your calorie intake by cutting down on fat and sugar in your diet. It’s important to eat a balanced diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to keep your body healthy.

Increase your physical activity to help you burn off calories. Choose a form of exercise you enjoy and that you’ll stick to. Get advice from your GP before you start but remember that, for most people, exercise is safe. Your GP practice may be able to refer you to special exercise groups run by fitness trainers, or you can ask for supervised help from a trainer if you’re already a member of a gym.

Avoid crash diets. Losing weight slowly is healthier and you’re more likely to keep the weight off for good. Aim to lose 1–2 pounds a week (0.5kg–1kg) and be patient with yourself.

Here are some ideas to help you lose weight:

It just didn’t occur to me that I’d put weight on. I always imagined I’d lose weight.