Outcomes of a weight loss intervention among rural breast cancer survivors


Obese breast cancer survivors have increased risk of recurrence and death compared to their normal weight counterparts. Rural women have significantly higher obesity rates, thus weight control intervention may be a key strategy for prevention of breast cancer recurrence in this population. This one-arm treatment study examined the impact of a group-based weight control intervention delivered through conference call technology to obese breast cancer survivors living in remote rural locations. The intervention included a reduced calorie diet incorporating prepackaged entrees and shakes, physical activity gradually increased to 225 min/week of moderate intensity exercise, and weekly group phone sessions. Outcomes included anthropomorphic, diet, physical activity, serum biomarker, and quality of life changes. Ninety-one percent of participants (31 of 34) attended >75% of intervention sessions and completed post-treatment data collection visits. At 6 months, significant changes were observed for weight (−12.5 ± 5.8 kg, 13.9% of baseline weight), waist circumference (−9.4 ± 6.3 cm), daily energy intake (−349 ± 550 kcal/day), fruits, and vegetables (+3.7 ± 4.3 servings/day), percent kcal from fat (−12.6 ± 8.6%), physical activity (+1235 ± 832 kcal/week; all P values <0.001), as well as significant reductions in fasting insulin (16.7% reduction, P = 0.006), and leptin (37.1% reduction, P < 0.001). Significant improvements were also seen for quality of life domains including mood, body image, and sexuality. In conclusion, the intervention produced >10% weight loss as well as significant improvements across multiple endpoints. The group phone-based treatment delivery approach may help disseminate effective weight control intervention to hard-to-reach breast cancer survivors.

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The authors thank gratefully acknowledge the help provided by the rural cancer center partners in this project, including staff at the Tammy Walker Cancer Center at Salina Regional Medical Center located in Salina, KS; Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute at Hays Medical Center located in Hays, KS; and Via Christi Health located in Pittsburg, KS. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the National Institutes of Health (K12 HD052027), American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

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Correspondence to Christie A. Befort.

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Befort, C.A., Klemp, J.R., Austin, H.L. et al. Outcomes of a weight loss intervention among rural breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer Res Treat 132, 631–639 (2012) doi:10.1007/s10549-011-1922-3

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  • Breast cancer
  • Survivors
  • Rural
  • Weight control
  • Physical activity