Putting The Study Results Into Perspective
While this study might lead some to conclude that having excess thyroid hormone promotes the development of breast cancer, experts caution that this study does not prove cause and effect. While there may be an association, it is not clear that an overactive thyroid actually causes breast cancer to develop.
Some critics wonder whether women at risk for hyperthyroidism may also be at risk for breast cancer, or whether the treatment for hyperthyroidism may be to blame for increased cancer risk. Another theory is that women with an overactive thyroid see their doctors more often and therefore are more likely to get screened for other problems like breast cancer.
The effect of thyroid hormone on breast cancer risk clearly requires further study. In the meantime, women with an overactive thyroid should stay in close communication with their doctors and follow routine breast cancer screening recommendations.
Breast Cancer & Weight Gain: What You Need To Know
Nearly 80% of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer will experience weight gain,1 reported to range between two pounds and 18 pounds. Not only is this an alarming trend for general health and self-image, but also some evidence suggests that pre-menopausal women who gain weight have a 1.5 fold increase risk of cancer recurrence.2 Other studies have shown that some types of treatment, such as anastrozole , are less effective at treating breast cancer in patients who are obese.3
Stephanie Graff, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health and Associate Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Sarah Cannon Research Institute shares what people should know about the risk factors for weight gain after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Simultaneously hitting menopause
Women who become post-menopausal within the year they are diagnosed with breast cancer are the most likely to gain weight. An average woman without breast cancer gains three pounds with menopause.4 The risk of weight gain with menopause is highest in women who were at a healthy weight when reaching menopause. There does not seem to be a significant weight gain in women who quit hormone replacement at the time of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Emotional wellness & coping skills
Managing Fatigue And Breast Cancer
- Researchers estimate that 90 percent of people with breast cancer experience fatigue during treatment.
- Fatigue can be caused by the cancer diagnosis, the disease itself, and breast cancer treatments.
- Talk to your health care team about potential solutions that may help ease your fatigue.
The most common side effect of treatment for breast cancer is fatigue, or feelings of extreme tiredness or exhaustion. In fact, some health care professionals estimate that 90 percent of individuals with breast cancer experience at least some fatigue during their treatment.
This fatigue is often overwhelming and can emerge abruptly without any apparent cause. It isnt cured by rest or good quality sleep, and it may last for months or even years past the end of treatment. In individuals with metastatic breast cancer, fatigue can last a long time, but that doesnt mean this symptom is permanent. Fatigue in breast cancer can be managed both at home and with your health care teams guidance.
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Dietary Supplements Are Being Studied For Cancer Fatigue
American ginseng in the form of capsules of ground ginger root may be used to treat fatigue. In a clinical trial, people with fatigue who were being treated for cancer or who had finished cancer treatment received either ginseng or a placebo. The group receiving ginseng had less fatigue than the placebo group.
Other dietary supplements, such as coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine, are also being studied in clinical trials. No positive results have been published. See the PDQ summary on Coenzyme Q10 for more information.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.
Short-term side effects
Radiation to the breast can cause:
- Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
- Breast soreness
- Breast swelling from fluid build-up
To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.
If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.
Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.
Long-term changes to the breast
Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.
After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.
Less common side effects in nearby areas
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Head Or Neck
People who get radiation to the head and neck might have side effects such as:
- Soreness in the mouth or throat
How to care for your mouth during treatment
If you get radiation therapy to the head or neck, you need to take good care of your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. Here are some tips that may help you manage mouth problems:
- Avoid spicy and rough foods, such as raw vegetables, dry crackers, and nuts.
- Dont eat or drink very hot or very cold foods or beverages.
- Dont smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol these can make mouth sores worse.
- Stay away from sugary snacks.
- Ask your cancer care team to recommend a good mouthwash. The alcohol in some mouthwashes can dry and irritate mouth tissues.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt and soda water every 1 to 2 hours as needed.
- Sip cool drinks often throughout the day.
- Eat sugar-free candy or chew gum to help keep your mouth moist.
- Moisten food with gravies and sauces to make it easier to eat.
- Ask your cancer care team about medicines to help treat mouth sores and control pain while eating.
If these measures are not enough, ask your cancer care team for advice. Mouth dryness may be a problem even after treatment is over. If so, talk to your team about what you can do.
How to care for your teeth during treatment
Radiation treatment to your head and neck can increase your chances of getting cavities. This is especially true if you have dry mouth as a result of treatment.
Ways To Manage Fatigue
Tell your health care team if you feel extremely tired and are not able to do your normal activities or are very tired even after resting or sleeping. Keeping track of your levels of energy throughout the day will help your doctor to assess your fatigue. Write down how fatigue affects your daily activities and what makes the fatigue better or worse.
You may be advised to take these and other steps to feel better:
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Your Healthcare Team Will Continue To Look For Patterns Of Fatigue
A fatigue assessment is repeated to see if there is a pattern for when fatigue starts or becomes worse. The same method of measuring fatigue is used at each assessment. This helps show changes in fatigue over time. The healthcare team will check for other causes of fatigue that can be treated. See the Causes of Cancer Fatigue section.
Fatigue Prior To Treatment
Several studies have now shown that women with breast cancer complain of fatigue even before the start of treatment., Ancoli-Israel et al. found that women diagnosed with breast cancer had increased fatigue, disturbed sleep, and increased daily dysfunction before the start of chemotherapy, and that those patients with fatigue, poor sleep, and depression pre-chemotherapy experienced more fatigue and poor quality of life during chemotherapy than women with fewer pre-treatment symptoms. These data suggest that fatigue is not just a result of radiation or chemotherapy, but rather is multifactorial.
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Why Does Radiation Therapy Cause Fatigue
Fatigue occurs during radiation therapy because the body is working hard to repair damage to healthy cells incurred during treatment. The degree of fatigue generally varies depending on the amount of tissue irradiated, as well as the location.
But radiation therapy may not be the sole culprit of fatigue: it can be a result of cancer itself or the mental stress associated with being a cancer patient. Certain medications, such as those to prevent and treat nausea, can also be responsible for fatigue. Its impossible to pinpoint the exact cause because there are many factors in cancer treatment that can all be responsible.
How Is Diarrhea Treated
The treatment for diarrhea depends on how severe it is. If its very mild, just changing your diet may stop it. More serious diarrhea requires medication and, sometimes, intravenous fluids to replace the fluid you have lost. Your doctor may adjust your cancer treatment if it is causing your diarrhea.
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Are You Having Breast Cancer Pain
How often does breast cancer cause breast pain? If you have breast pain, what are the chances its cancer? What types of breast cancers are more likely to be painful? Since breast pain affects roughly half of all women at some point in our lives, these are important questions to be asking.
Learn about about how often breast cancer is painful , and whether pain may increase your risk of breast cancer in the future.
Forgetting The Root Cause
And the biggest reason for thyroid causing fatigue is because nobody is addressing the root cause.
The root causes which started it all the thyroid imbalance is the inflammation in body.
The inflammation in our body is destroying the thyroid gland, that is the reason our mitochondria are being destroyed too.
Replacing the thyroid hormone with medicine like levothyroxine does not reduce the underlying inflammation hence thyroid fatigue.
So we need to work on reducing inflammation too to help improve our energy when thyroid causing fatigue.
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How Does Cancer Cause Fatigue
, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. That growth requires energy, and cancer absorbs energy that would normally travel to the rest of the body.
Its uncommon to notice this energy drain, however, unless the cancer has metastasized to organs such as the liver, where it may affect metabolism, or the bone marrow.
When cancer invades the bone marrow, it affects the production of blood cells. White blood cells help fight infection. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin and carry oxygen to and from organs and tissues throughout the body, providing energy and removing waste from cells. Cancer may cause a reduction in the production of red blood cells, resulting in anemia, which causes fatigue.
Inflammation caused by cancer may be another key contributor to cancer-related fatigue. When your body is fighting a disease, it releases chemicals like cytokines to trigger the immune response, but these chemicals may also cause fatigue.
In patients with advanced cancer, the disease may produce cachexins, which reduce your appetite and may result in cachexia, a serious cancer-related condition that causes substantial weight loss and muscle wasting.
Hormonal Changes During Breast Cancer Treatment
Doctors may prescribe hormone therapy to treat breast cancer or to decrease the risk of its recurrence.
The hormone estrogen feeds some types of breast cancer. Suppressing estrogen may reduce the risk of such breast cancers recurring. Treatment may include hormonal therapies, such as:
According to The National Cancer Institute , the cause of fatigue during cancer treatment is not always clear and may involve more than one factor.
For example, chemotherapy may decrease red blood cell and then white blood cell levels, which may cause fatigue. Chemotherapy can also trigger nausea and vomiting, which may cause dehydration and associated fatigue.
According to the chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also cause fatigue in the following ways:
- by altering levels of hormones and proteins that contribute to inflammation
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What Causes Fatigue In Breast Cancer
Many factors cause people with breast cancer to experience fatigue, including the condition itself as well as treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy , surgery, and medications. As one MyBCTeam member wrote, I feel so beat out after treatments. It takes a lot to just take a shower or brush my teeth.
In addition, individuals with breast cancer often face unique stressors, including multiple diagnoses, emotional health troubles, and life obligations. All of these components can make for a noticeable lack of energy and feelings of fatigue.
Why Youre So Tired After Radiation Therapy
When you are prescribed radiation therapy to treat cancer, your healthcare provider will provide you with a list of possible side effects of treatment. Things like nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss usually catch a persons attention first because they seem to be the worst. While these are side effects that can be difficult to tolerate, it is actually fatigue that affects people the most. Lack of energy and excessive tiredness seem to plague all cancer patients, but those going through radiation therapy do experience it more frequently and often chronically. Learning how to manage and cope with fatigue is essential for your quality of life during radiation therapy treatment.
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Some Cancers Cause No Symptoms At All
Sometimes, people with cancer dont experience any signs or symptoms at all. Others only have issues when the cancer has spread throughout their body.
For instance, ovarian cancer usually doesnt cause any noticeable problems until it spreads to other organs. By the time this cancer causes signs or symptoms, its usually very advanced and difficult to cure.
Its possible to spot cancers before you have any symptoms. Checkups and screening tests may be able to detect certain cancers in your body before they start affecting you.
Ask your doctor if you should have any special tests. If you have a family history of a certain cancer or have been exposed to specific risk factors, your physician may perform more aggressive testing.
Thyroid Autoimmunity And Breast Cancer
Breast cancer incidence is also increasing rapidly in the last decade. But is there a correlation between thyroid and breast cancer?
There was a study done on 867 breast cancer patients, and their thyroid status was checked.
The results showed a significant correlation in the presence of thyroid autoimmunity and breast cancer.
There has been some hypothesis that the link between the thyroid autoimmunity and breast cancer could be because of some shared similar antigens between the two glands, and also that breast cancer could be propagated by immune cells which might have been modified in case of thyroid autoimmune diseases.
Similar to thyroid cancer there have been studies that show that breast cancer also has immune cells present.
And so its not a surprise that the inflammatory autoimmune thyroid disease increases the risk of breast cancer too.
This association between thyroid disorder and cancer means that inflammation does play a huge role in cancer development.
In fact, new cancer research is focusing on developing immunomodulator medicines to modify this inflammation and see if it can help with cancer treatment.
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When To See Your Doctor
Its important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if its not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.
Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation
In cancer pre- and rehabilitation, exercise is a very suitable means to reduce fatigue and improve the overall quality of life and participation . Improvement of muscular strength, endurance capacity, sensorimotor functions, and flexibility seems to be of high clinical relevance concerning the overall quality of life, general health, survival, and return to work . There are recent international recommendations for exercise in cancer patients, which serve as a guide for the fitness and health care professionals working with cancer survivors . Cancer survivors can safely engage in exercise to restore physical functioning, enhance the quality of life, and mitigate CRF .
In some cases, cancer patients are not able to perform systematic and regular exercise due to different painful musculoskeletal conditions, such as plantar fasciitis or calcaneal spur, calcifying tendinopathy of the shoulder, tennis elbow, or Achilles tendinopathy . In most cases, such painful musculoskeletal conditions prohibit active participation in exercise programs and therefore have to be treated before starting vigorous exercise .
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