Increased depression and metabolic risk in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors

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Objective: Breast cancer survivors (BCS) are at high risk for the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome. There is increasing interest in the association between depression and metabolic dysfunction, which is relevant in this population as depression is often present in the chronic phase of cancer recovery. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate metabolic risk in BCS with and without depression compared to non-cancer controls. Methods: African American (46 %) and Caucasian (54 %) postmenopausal BCS (N = 28; age: 60 ± 2 years; mean ± SEM) were matched for race, age (±2 years), and BMI (±2 kg/m2) to non-cancer controls (N = 28). Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) >16 or antidepressant medication usage was used to classify depression. Metabolic status was defined by 2-hr glucose during an OGTT and classification of metabolic syndrome. Results: Compared to non-cancer controls, BCS had similar 2-hr glucose, but higher fasting glucose and total cholesterol, and were 2.5 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome (21 vs. 52 %)(P's < 0.05). Conversely, HDL-C was 16 % higher in BCS (P < 0.05). Forty three % of BCS were on antidepressants compared to 14 % in non-cancer controls, despite similar mean CES-D scores (6 ± 1). Depressed BCS (46 %) had a higher BMI, waist circumference, fasting glucose, and more metabolic syndrome components than non-depressed BCS (P's < 0.05). Conclusions: BCS have a heightened prevalence of depression that may be associated with an increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome. These results support the need to monitor weight gain, depression, and the progression of metabolic abnormalities after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Further studies into the mechanistic link between depression and metabolic disease are necessary to identify strategies that can offset their impact on obesity and associated cardiovascular risk following a breast cancer diagnosis.




Serra, M. C., Goldberg, A. P., & Ryan, A. S. (2016). Increased depression and metabolic risk in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome, 8(1).

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