Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian. In 2018, it was estimated that 18,235 new cases of breast cancer would be diagnosed with 148, males and 18,087, females (AIHW, 2017). Evidence shows that a 5-10% reduction in weight losscan lower an individual’s risk for breast cancer by 12% through the implementation of small diet improvements and lifestyle choices (Chlebowski et al 2017).

 What is the research link between weight and breast cancer?

Research shows being overweight or obese is highly associated with the diagnosis, recurrence and or survival rate of breast cancer incidents in post-menopausal women. Since high body weight increases circulating hormones, particularly insulin, this influences body fat distribution toward the mid-section (the biggest predictor for chronic disease development, particularly, heart disease or type 2 diabetes). Maintaining a healthy weight through good nutrition practices alongside exercise can improve one’s health and longevity.  

If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer or finalised your treatment and feeling lost, overwhelmed and unsure on how to tackle your diet, continue reading…


Why managing your weight during and post breast cancer treatment is beneficial to your health?

  • Promotes a stronger immunity and total recovery 

  • Decreases the risk for adverse health conditions i.e. heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes 

  • Decreases the risk of breast cancer recurring

  • Better controls blood sugar, blood pressure and lipid profile levels i.e. cholesterol & triglycerides

  • Reduces stress and pressure on joints and improves joint mobility  

 What influences my weight during treatment? 

Gaining weight is common post breast cancer diagnosis, for several individual reasons, including early-onset menopause, a side effect of treatment, changes in energy intake and or reduced movement due to fatigue. To date, there is no scientific evidence to support a “special” diet, therefore it is best to avoid drastic changes. Employing strategies that promote safe and gradual weight loss is the most effective way and under the guidance of an accredited practising dietitian (APD). 

How can I eat healthy during treatment? 

Are you experiencing symptoms that are impacting on your food intake? Nausea, reduced appetite, change in taste and or smells? These side effects can make it difficult to achieve a well-balanced diet, affecting your nutritional status and increasing risk for poor immunity. Prioritising a wholesome approach to eating as best you can ensures your body is equipped with sufficient energy with the right nutrients, improving your responsiveness to treatment. 

How can I eat healthy after treatment? 

Research shows carrying extra body fat promotes a cancerous environment. Implementing a plant-based diet provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich nutrients, encouraging healthy cell growth and preventing oxidative stress. Limiting intake of red, processed meats, sugar-dense drinks, alcohol and salty foods can support a healthy weight and helps fight cancer recurrence. 


Some handy tips to maintain a healthy weight during and post treatment! 


  • Prioritise protein at meals and snacks  

  • Include an array of vegetables and legumes at each main meal  

  • Work with your dietitian to create balanced meals that meet your own unique individualised requirements


Is widespread information leaving you feel confused as to whether elimination or addition of foods should be included in your cancer journey? Is weight a concern? OR side effects impacting on your diet? Reach out to an APD who can provide you with individualised and simple tips!


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