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New Insight on Weight Gain After Prostate Cancer Therapy

Study Shows Weight Gain After Hormone Therapy May Level Off After a Year of Treatment

Charting Weight Changes on Hormone Therapy

The study relied on medical records of 132 men who underwent radical prostatectomies with subsequent androgen deprivation therapy at four Veterans Affairs hospital. The patients were enrolled in the Shared Equal Access Regional Cancer Hospital (SEARCH) database.

The average age of the study participants was 66. Half were white, 42% were African-American, and 8% came from other races.

A majority of men on ADT, 70%, gained weight -- an average of about 9 pounds per person. But 26% of men lost an average of 5 pounds each after starting ADT, and 4% saw no weight change.

In a subset of 84 men who had recorded weights for all three years of the study, researchers saw a distinct bump in weight during the first year on ADT, with no changes in the year before therapy or in the second year.

The study is published in the March issue of the urology journal BJUI.

Advice for Men Starting ADT

“When we discuss this in clinic as a potential and likely side effect, I tell patients that it’s hard for most men to maintain or lose weight, and androgen deprivation therapy is going to make that harder than it already was,” Saylor says.

Beyond weight gain, previous studies have shown that ADT causes changes in body composition -- a loss of muscle and bone mass with an increase in fat mass.

“So not only is the total amount of body weight going up, but it’s in the wrong proportions,” Freedland says. “It is a big problem.”

Those changes are thought to increase insulin resistance, which may, in turn, increase the risks for heart disease and diabetes.

“Our key tools for fighting against that really are diet and exercise,” Saylor says.

Freeland agrees, noting that there are studies under way to try to see what the best diets or exercise plans may best help men on hormone therapy peel off unwanted pounds, but the jury is still out on which is most effective.

In the meantime, he says the best guidance is the mantra followed by people who need to lose weight under any circumstances: Move more, eat less.

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