Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 551–559 | Cite as

Randomized trial of a phone- and web-based weight loss program for women at elevated breast cancer risk: the HELP study

  • Lisa Cadmus-BertramEmail author
  • Sandahl H. Nelson
  • Sheri Hartman
  • Ruth E. Patterson
  • Barbara A. Parker
  • John P. Pierce


Excess weight and physical inactivity are modifiable risk factors for breast cancer. Behavioral intervention is particularly important among women with an elevated risk profile. This trial tested an intervention that trained women to use a self-monitoring website to increase activity and lose weight. Women with BMI ≥27.5 kg/m2 at elevated breast cancer risk were randomized to the intervention (N = 71) or usual care (N = 34). The intervention group received telephone-based coaching and used web-based self-monitoring tools. At 6 months, significant weight loss was observed in the intervention group (4.7 % loss from starting weight; SD = 4.7 %) relative to usual care (0.4 % gain; SD = 3.0 %) (p < 0.0001). By 12 months, the intervention group had lost 3.7 % of weight (SD = 5.4 %), compared to 1.3 % (SD = 4.2) for usual care (p = 0.003). At 12 months, accelerometer-measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased by 12 min/day (SD = 24) compared to no change in usual care (p = 0.04. In summary, this web- and phone-based approach produced modest but significant improvements in weight and physical activity for women at elevated breast cancer risk.


Weight loss Breast cancer Internet Technology Self-monitoring Physical activity 



This study was funded by (a) the University of California (UC) Athena Breast Health Network, via the Safeway Foundation and University of California Office of the President, and (b) by a gift from Carol Vassiliadis and family. Dr. Cadmus-Bertram is supported by Grant K07CA178870 and Dr. Hartman by Grant K07CA181323, both from the National Cancer Institute.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, Sandahl H. Nelson, Sheri Hartman, Ruth E. Patterson, Barbara A. Parker and John P. Pierce declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Cadmus-Bertram
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandahl H. Nelson
    • 2
  • Sheri Hartman
    • 2
  • Ruth E. Patterson
    • 2
  • Barbara A. Parker
    • 3
  • John P. Pierce
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of Wisconsin - MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, Moores UCSD Cancer CenterUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Moores UCSD Cancer CenterUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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