New research published in the June 2018 journal JAMA Oncology suggests that low muscle mass is related to higher mortality in patients with metastatic breast cancer.
What Did the Research Show?
The data collected by the National Cancer Institute examined over 3,200 women with breast cancer. These women were put under a pelvic or abdominal computed tomography, also known as a “CT Scan.” Test results indicated that having a low body mass index at time of diagnosis could result in a poorer outcome than women with adequate muscle mass.
What Is the Name of This Condition?
The low muscle mass condition associated with breast and other types of cancer is called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a degenerative process that affects skeletal muscle mass. You can see this same process in people as they age and become more frail as they lose muscle mass.
How Are Breast Cancer Patients Affected by Sarcopenia?
One-third of the women diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer suffer from sarcopenia; this pertains to women who had breast cancer that did not exceed past the breast region. Sarcopenia is most dangerous to those with little muscle mass, so those who are “slim” have a higher fatality risk because sarcopenia progresses at a faster rate due to cancer.
The “Obesity Paradox” Baffles Health Professionals
Health professionals have typically advised that being overweight or obese increases the risk for a number of types of cancer. However, studies have also found that leaner people diagnosed with several different cancer types and other diseases have a higher risk of dying than people who may be considered overweight or obese according to BMI charts.
This “obesity paradox” is perplexing to healthcare professionals, and seems to imply that having some excess body fat offers a level of protection against death from certain diseases.
What Do the Professionals Recommend?
Researchers on the study are promoting the importance of getting muscle mass measurements into standard CT practice and not relying solely on BMI which does not give the full picture about a patient’s muscle mass and quality.
What Can You Do?
If you have breast cancer, then the study professionals highly suggest monitoring your body mass index. Making sure it stays level (not too high and not too low) is extremely important in balancing the potentially fatal effects that could result from sarcopenia and breast cancer.
Be aware too that there are plenty of natural options for healing from cancer if you are diagnosed and essential steps you can take now to prevent breast cancer from ever taking hold.