Weight gain is an important concern that impacts on breast cancer outcomes and general health in survivorship.
This randomized, pilot study evaluated whether or not women could comply with a weight control program that is
initiated at the beginning of chemotherapy for breast cancer. The program sought to prevent weight gain using a low-fat,
high fruit-vegetable diet combined with moderate physical activity. The intervention was implemented using a telephone
counseling approach that blended motivational interviewing with social cognitive theory. A total of 40 women were
recruited over 9 months at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. This represents 55% of eligible
women referred to the study and indicates that interest in a healthy lifestyle program at the initiation of chemotherapy for
breast cancer was high. Subjects who dropped out had significantly lower fruit and vegetable intakes and lower blood
carotenoids at baseline than subjects who completed the study. Statistically significant beneficial effects were observed on
fruit and vegetable intakes, physical activity and breast cancer-specific well-being by the intervention. Mean body fat
from dual energy X-ray absorptiometry increased in the written materials arm and decreased in the intervention arm. Of
the enrolled women, 75% completed 12 months on study and satisfaction with study participation was high. These data
indicate that lifestyle intervention during breast cancer treatment is feasible during treatment with chemotherapy for breast
cancer and benefits women in several domains.