In this week’s issue of People, former Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre opens up about her five-year battle with breast cancer and the medication she’s been on to keep the disease at bay. Goodacre, who’s married to singer and actor Harry Connick Jr., went through surgery and radiation in 2012 after a tumor was detected via sonogram, and has taken the drug tamoxifen ever since. As she approaches her five-year cancer-free mark, Goodacre says she’s looking forward to stopping tamoxifen. The medication can cause side effects, including weight gain, which Goodacre admits she’s struggled with. “I’ve always been a pretty fit person, and so to be just rounder and heavier and not to really be able to do much about it—that’s been hard,” she told People. “It’s taken a lot out of my self-confidence.” That’s a common problem among breast cancer survivors, says Nikita Shah, MD, medical director of the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center. Shah has not treated Goodacre, but does prescribe tamoxifen to many of her own patients.) Still, tamoxifen can be lifesaving, says Dr. Shah, and for many women, its benefits outweigh its potential side effects. Many people gain weight when they are treated with chemotherapy and steroids. Your extra weight may hang around and increase after chemotherapy if you also take hormonal therapy (tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor). If your body shifts into menopause because of chemotherapy, there's a tendency to gain weight. This weight gain may be because of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is controlled by insulin. LPL sits on the surface of cells and pulls fat out of the bloodstream and into the cell. If LPL is on a muscle cell, it pulls fat into the cell where it’s used for fuel. If LPL is on a fat cell, it pulls fat into the cell and makes it fatter.
If so, we’re going to talk about how you can challenge your beliefs and assumptions and beat this extra weight. (Keeping reading, we’ll pick Kathy’s story back up soon.)Is weight gain something you’re struggling with now? But first, let’s start with: Tamoxifen is a medication prescribed for breast cancer treatment. And, as a preventative measure for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. It works by attaching to estrogen receptors and blocking the effects of estrogen on the breast tissue. So it helps prevent the growth of breast tumors that need estrogen; which, according to the National Cancer Institute, is about 80%. The benefits of tamoxifen are tremendous, but it’s not without risk of side effects. Tamoxifen is used in breast cancer treatment and to prevent recurrence after treatment. It’s also sometimes used to prevent breast cancer in those at high risk of the disease. It’s been shown to be effective for hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. The medication belongs to a class of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). These drugs work by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells to minimize estrogen’s effects on breast tissue. Tamoxifen is prescribed mostly to women, but some men, too. One concern with tamoxifen is the possibility of weight changes.
There is a perception that tamoxifen causes weight gain in breast cancer patients. The purpose of this research study was to determine if weight gain is. Weight loss is found among people who take Tamoxifen citrate, especially for people who are female, 60+ old, have been taking the drug for 1 - 2 years, also take medication Zometa, and have High blood pressure.