Obesity Linked to Poor Psychosocial Health Outcomes in Breast and Prostate Cancer Patients

Breast and prostate cancer patients who are obese have poorer psychosocial health outcomes, according to the findings of a new study published in Psycho-Oncology.

The link between obesity and cancer has received increasing attention, and prompted studies to examine the potential impact of excess weight on psychosocial health during cancer treatment. The researchers of this study sought to appraise the effect of weight status on psychosocial outcomes among patients diagnosed with breast cancer, prostate, and colon cancer.

In this retrospective study, researchers assessed 4,159 patients over the age of 55. Of the total, 52.2% were diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer, 38.7% were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 9.1% were diagnosed with colon cancer. Before starting treatment, the researchers utilized a 33-item touch screen-based instrument to screen patients for distress-related problems. Subsequently, the researchers generated descriptive statistics for each form of cancer and one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to determine differences in distress by body weight (nonobese: <30 kg/m2 vs obese: ≥30 kg/m2).

The Negative Impact of Obesity

Following data analysis, the researchers observed a higher rate of biopsychosocial problem‐related distress in patients with breast cancer (M = 4.3) juxtaposed with prostate cancer patients (M = 2.8) and colon cancer patients. (M = 3.8). Moreover, the results showed that obese breast and prostate cancer patients reported higher levels of problem‐related distress compared with non-obese patients (P < .05), whereas an opposite trend was noted for patients with colon cancer.

“The current study found notable obesity‐related differences among patients diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer or prostate cancer, with excess weight consistently associated with poorer psychosocial outcomes,” the study authors wrote in their conclusion.

“These findings among a large cohort of patients provide insight into the impact of obesity during the cancer care trajectory and can provide guidance in the development and implementation of supportive care services for this “at‐risk” population.”