Study Links Muscle Mass to Better Outcome for Breast Cancer Patients

JAMA Oncology released the findings of their study linking muscle mass to a higher chance of survival among breast cancer sufferers. The study claims that breast cancer victims that don’t feel well often lost a lot of weight. The weight loss is primarily muscle mass loss and it leads to a lower chance of survival for people who are chronically ill.

The study conducted by JAMA looked at younger women that have breast cancer. Previous studies on breast cancer have included much older women who were in advanced stages of breast cancer at the time of the study.

Participants in the study include 3, 241 women from Northern California between January 2000 and December 2013. All of the women from Kaiser Permanente had either stage II or stage III breast cancer. Researchers determined that despite age or the stage of the cancer, higher muscle mass increased the risk of survival.

Women that had lower muscle mass levels had higher risks of death.

Researchers are unsure of why low muscle mass results in higher death risks. The researchers used CT scans to determine how cancer impacts the muscles. One theory is that cancer inflammation may result in an increase in fat deposits and lower muscle mass.

The study determined that healthy women and women suffering from cancer should work to increase their muscle mass as a way of proactively reducing their risk factors now.

Studies from the Military Nutrition Division of the US Army conducted a study in 2015 that analyzed supplementation and muscle mass. The study found that protein supplements were able to enhance muscle strength, mass and promote muscle hypertrophy in both trained and untrained individuals. The study concluded that in the initial weeks of training, protein supplementation likely has no impact on muscle strength or lean muscle mass.

The study claims as resistance training increases and volume increases, protein powders and drinks will have a greater impact and can also increase anaerobic and aerobic power.

JAMA’s study recommends women follow an adequate diet and training to build muscle. The study claims that a 125-pound woman needs 45 grams of protein daily, while bodybuilders recommend at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Doctors claim that no matter what food is eaten, including protein into a diet is essential for building healthy muscle.

“Our findings are likely generalizable across many other nonmetastatic cancers because the associations with muscle and improved survival for those with metastatic cancer has been observed across a variety of solid tumors, ” claims the study.

Researchers hope that their findings will be used to offer better treatment practices for cancer sufferers in the future. The researchers claim that they should consider interventions that include resistance training and protein supplementation to improve muscle mass in cancer patients.

The hope of researchers is to use precision medicine to directly measure muscle to help guide treatment plans for patients. Optimizing survival outcomes may be possible, according to JAMA’s study.

The CDC claims that 236, 968 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and 41, 211 women died from breast cancer.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.