Can weight loss help African American breast cancer survivors?
African American women exhibit higher breast cancer mortality rates than white women.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for
Health Research and Policy have designed a novel community-based weight
loss intervention designed for African American breast cancer
Under a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute,
researchers will determine if the program, called Moving Forward, is
effective in decreasing body mass index and weight and improving diet
and physical activity habits. They will also evaluate the effect of
weight loss on blood pressure, cholesterol and quality of life.
African American women exhibit higher breast cancer mortality rates
than white women; in Chicago the breast cancer mortality rate for black
women is 116 percent higher than the rate for white women, says Melinda
Stolley, principal investigator of the study and institute researcher.
Poor diet, lack of physical activity and obesity contribute to breast
cancer progression and may intensify other conditions such as
hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, she said.
"One of the cruel things about being diagnosed with breast cancer is
that most women gain weight post-treatment -- on average 5 to 7 pounds
-- which is not fully understood. We want to target African American
women because nearly 78 percent of African American women are
overweight or obese."
Physical activity has been shown to improve survival in breast cancer
patients, Stolley said, but there has been very little research on
weight loss in African American breast cancer survivors.
UIC will partner with the Chicago Park District to implement the study
in the Roseland/Pullman, Englewood, Austin, South Shore and Lawndale
The randomized study will recruit 240 African American breast cancer
survivors who have completed treatment at least six months prior; are
overweight; are physically able to participate in moderate physical
activity; and are not currently in a structured weight loss program.
The goal of the weight loss intervention is to address health behavior
change at an individual level while acknowledging the importance of
culture, family lifestyles, community traditions and social support,
said Stolley. A pilot study "was effective in significantly reducing
dietary fat and significantly increasing vegetable intake, vigorous
activity, and social support." Women in the pilot study lost five and a
half pounds during the six-month intervention.
Women in the program will receive a free 12-month membership to a
participating park district location where they will attend twice
weekly exercise and educational sessions. Participants in the control
group will meet weekly to learn about general health topics. At the end
of the program all participants will receive a 12-month free membership
to the Chicago Park District.
Co-investigators are Drs. Richard Campbell, Giamila Fantuzzi, Ben
Gerber, Angela Odoms-Young, and Lisa Sharp.
UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is
Chicago's largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and
staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A
hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which
UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate,
foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve
the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.
Courtesy of ARA content