Pennington Biomedical study shows stable body weight may hide loss of muscle, increasing risk of death in colorectal cancer patients
BATON ROUGE - According to a Pennington Biomedical study, colorectal cancer survivors who maintained a stable body weight, but lost muscle developed fatty deposits, caused a 40 percent higher risk of premature death compared to those who avoided both health issues.
“The conventional wisdom has been that colorectal cancer patients should avoid losing or gaining weight during treatment,” said Dr. Justin C. Brown, Assistant Professor and Director of the Cancer Metabolism Program at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “But maintaining your weight does not mean your body composition remains the same. Muscle can change quite dramatically, and those changes are associated with a much higher risk of death.”
Through computed tomography researchers can evaluate the patients body composition to identify if they have an increased risk of death.
In a study, 1,921 patients with stage 1-3 colorectal cancer, skeletal muscle and body weight were measured at the time they were diagnosed and 15 months later prior.Researchers discovered that those with a stable body weight can hide skeletal muscle depletion.
Stable body weight was defined as being within plus or minus 5 percent of weight at diagnosis.
According to researchers, women were more vulnerable to losing muscle. One in five women with a stable body weight lost muscle, while less than one in 10 men did.
“More research is needed to determine whether physical activity offers the best solution to prevent muscle loss or fatty deposits in muscle,” Dr. Brown said. “But the findings provide colorectal cancer patients with more incentive to engage in physical activity programs that maintain and build muscle.”
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