An intervention-guided program improved weight loss compared with a self-guided program among African American breast cancer survivors, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Obesity may contribute to breast cancer progression, as well as other chronic conditions. Few studies have evaluated weight loss interventions in the African American population. This study evaluated whether an intervention can improve weight, body composition, and behavior among breast cancer survivors.

The study randomly assigned 246 overweight/obese African American women who were survivors of stage I to III breast cancer to undergo an interventionist- or self-guided weight loss program for 6 months. The goal was to promote a 5% decrease in body weight.

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The weight intervention arm received a twice-weekly in-person class with supervised exercise and learning modules, and text messages to provides support and health promotion resources.

The mean age at baseline was 57.5, 87% of women were postmenopausal, and the mean body mass index was 36.1 kg/m2. Nearly 30% of women were not currently receiving endocrine therapy. Attendance of the interventionist classes was 55%.

Body weight, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat were reduced with both interventions, though the differences compared with baseline were higher in the interventionist arm.

Although the arms did not reach the goal of 5% weight loss, the change from baseline at 6 months was -3.49 (standard deviation [SD], 0.39) in the interventionist group compared with -1.27 (SD, 0.40) in the self-guided group (P < .001).

The changes in body weight and composition were a result of behavioral changes including an increase in moderate and vigorous exercise, decreased energy, sodium, and added sugar intake.

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These results suggest that the weight loss program can help African American breast cancer survivors lose weight.

The authors noted, however, that “ongoing community-based programs that support healthy lifestyles are required. This is particularly true for African American breast cancer survivors, who have high rates of obesity, often live in resource-poor neighborhoods, and face multiple barriers to healthy lifestyles.”


  1. Stolley M, Sheean P, Gerber B, et al. Efficacy of a weight loss intervention for African American breast cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Jun 19. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.71.9856 [Epub ahead of print]