Telephone and In-Person Counseling for Weight Loss Effective in Women Treated for Breast Cancer


Key Points

  • Significant weight loss vs usual care was observed with telephone and in-person counseling in overweight or obese women treated for breast cancer.
  • The combined telephone and in-person counseling groups had a 30% reduction in C-reactive protein vs a 1% reduction in the usual-care group.

In the LEAN (Lifestyle, Exercise, and Nutrition) study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Harrigan et al found that telephone and in-person weight loss counseling was effective in reducing weight and C-reactive protein level in overweight or obese women treated for breast cancer.

In the study, 100 breast cancer survivors with a body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m2 were recruited between June 2011 and December 2012 from 5 hospitals in Connecticut and randomized to receive in-person counseling (n = 33), telephone counseling (n = 34), or usual care (n = 33). In-person and telephone counseling included eleven 30-minute sessions over 6 months focused on reducing caloric intake, increasing physical activity, and behavioral therapy. The usual-care group was given American Institute for Cancer Research nutrition and physical activity brochures and referred to the Yale Cancer Center Survivorship Clinic, which offers a two-session weight management program.

Changes in weight and serum biomarkers were assessed at 6 months. Patients had a mean age of 59 years, mean body mass index of 33.1 kg/m2, and mean time from diagnosis of 2.9 years. A total of 82% were postmenopausal, and 91% were white; 15% had stage 0, 51% had stage I, 24% had stage II, and 7% had stage III disease.

Weight and C-Reactive Protein Changes

Average 6-month weight loss was 6.4% in the in-person group (P = .004 vs usual care, P = .46 vs telephone), 5.4% in the telephone group (P = .009 vs usual care group), and 2.0% in the usual-care group. The combined intervention groups had a 30% decrease in C-reactive protein level vs a 1% decrease in the usual-care group (P = .05).

The investigators concluded: “Both in-person and telephone counseling were effective weight loss strategies, with favorable effects on C-reactive protein levels. Our findings may help guide the incorporation of weight loss counseling into breast cancer treatment and care.”

The study was supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Yale Cancer Center, and National Center for Advancing Translational Science.

Melinda L. Irwin, PhD, of the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, is the corresponding author of the Journal of Clinical Oncology article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.