- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Living well after cancer
- Taking control of your health
- Maintain a healthy body weight
Maintain a healthy body weight
Obesity is a risk factor for a number of different cancers. A healthy body weight is important for reducing the risk of cancer recurrence and improving survival. The health risk associated with your body weight can be estimated using different techniques including waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). To calculate your BMI, go to healthdirect.gov.au and search for BMI calculator.
Keep in mind that some cancer treatments can affect your weight and waist circumference. Some people expect to lose weight during cancer treatment, but for many people it can have the opposite effect. Weight gained during cancer treatment can be difficult to lose because of fatigue and other challenges after cancer treatment. Whether you have lost or gained weight, it is important to work towards getting back to a healthy weight.
Treatment for some cancers can affect your ability to eat, digest food and absorb essential nutrients. You will need to try different foods and ways of eating to find out what works for you. You may need to change your eating habits, such as eating smaller meals more often throughout the day.
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Having fat around the abdomen or waist, regardless of your body size, means you are more likely to develop certain obesity-related health conditions, including cancer. Some cancer types are also associated with increased fat around the hips and buttocks.
Waist circumference can be used to indicate health risk. Place a measuring tape around your waist at the narrowest point between the lower rib and the top of the hips at the end of a normal breath.
|Increased||94 cm or more||80 cm or more|
|Substantially increased||102 cm or more||88 cm or more|
Dietitians can help you with nutritional concerns, any ongoing problems with food and eating, or supervised weight loss. They are available in all public hospitals, and some private hospitals and community health centres. Ask at your local centre or see your GP for a referral. To find an Accredited Practising Dietitian in your area or with experience in particular problems, call the Dietitians Association of Australia on 1800 812 942. Ask about Medicare rebates.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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Staying healthy after treatment
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