Muscle Mass, Body Fat and Breast Cancer Survival

Thoughts on a recent observational study performed by Kaiser Permanente and Dana Farber on Breast Cancer Survival.

According to the results published in JAMA Oncology on April 5th 2018, muscle characteristics appear to be “important predictors of survival” for those who have breast cancer. Patients who had sarcopenia (diminished muscle mass) were 41 percent less likely to have survived than those who did not. Patients with the highest amount of adipose tissue (i.e. body fat) were also linked to an increased mortality risk. Patients who had both sarcopenia and a high amount of body fat were 89 percent more likely to have died from their breast cancer. This was for Stage II and Stage III breast cancer patients.

My response…. did we really need a study that proves that those that exercise more and have better muscle tone and less body fat have better outcomes? Cancer is a multifactorial disease and one of the common threads I see in my cancer patients is lack of exercise and excess weight. Previous studies have shown that those with breast cancer who walk 1 hour per day 6 days per week, reduce their recurrence rate by 25%. Those that exercise have less body fat and more muscle.

Let’s start walking. You don’t have to start at 1 hour per day. Start at 10-15 minutes. The key is doing it every day rain or shine.

Live every minute of every day.

Cynthia Bye, ND, FABNO
Board Certified in Naturopathic Oncology