An estimated one in eight women will suffer breast cancer, but that doesn’t mean one in eight women will die from the disease. What can you do to increase your odds of survival if you’ve received a breast cancer diagnosis? Muscle mass may make a difference, suggests research.
A study published in JAMA Oncology found that breast cancer patients with sarcopenia (progressive loss of muscle due to aging, which typically occurs naturally in men and women after the age of 30 or so) at the time of their cancer diagnosis were 41 percent less likely to survive the 13-year study period compared to women with breast cancer who did not have sarcopenia. Increased body fat was also a predictor of cancer mortality, and breast cancer patients with sarcopenia and high body fat were 89 percent more likely to succumb during the study period. All women tracked in the study had non-metastatic (not spreading from its site of origin to another part of the body) stage II or stage IIIbreast cancer.
Increasing lean muscle mass is important for men and women as they age, but as these findings emphasize, it’s critical for women since breast cancer rates are so high, and particularly critical for women over the age of 30 with declining muscle mass due to aging. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that promotes lean muscle mass while reducing body fat. It may save your life.