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Study: Obesity may increase psychosocial issues for cancer patients

By Tauren Dyson
Study: Obesity may increase psychosocial issues for cancer patients
Researchers report finding a link between excess weight in cancer patients and an increased risk for psychosocial issues, echoing previous related studies. Photo by photosforyou/Pixabay

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- While studies have shown that weight can affect mental well-being, new research links excess weight among cancer patients with worse psychosocial symptoms.

Many cancer patients have problems with money, sleeping, anxiety, pain and depression, among others, but those who are also obese tend to have a heavier burden of symptoms, according to new research published Thursday in the journal Psycho-Oncology.

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"The current study found notable obesity-related differences among patients diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer or prostate cancer," researchers wrote in the study, "with excess weight consistently associated with poorer psychosocial outcomes."

The study included more than 4,100 cancer patients over age 55. About 52 percent had breast cancer, nearly 39 percent had prostate cancer and about 9 percent had colon cancer.

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Prior to treatment, study participants were screened for distress using a 33-item survey, with statistics generated for each cancer type to help determine differences in distress by patient weight.

The researchers found patients with breast or prostate cancer had higher levels of distress compared to other cancer patients -- and colon cancer patients had notably higher levels of anguish no matter their weight.

Some studies have zeroed in on the link between body mass index and depression, with one in 2018 showing that every 4.7-point increase in BMI was linked to an additional 18 percent risk.

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"These findings among a large cohort of patients provide insight into the impact of obesity during the cancer care trajectory and can provide guidance in the development and implementation of supportive care services for this 'at-risk' population," researchers wrote in the study.

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