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Phone Counseling Helps Breast Cancer Survivors to Better Health

Drive Thru Neon Sign Phone counseling may be as effective as in-person counseling to help breast cancer survivors eat healthy, exercise and lose weight, all of which are factors that reduce future cancer risk and improve health, according to a study presented this month at AICR's Annual Research Conference.

The findings may offer survivors – and others – a savings of time and cost, barriers often cited in healthy lifestyle changes.

The study is not published so has not gone through the peer-review process. It is funded by AICR.

The study, Lifestyle, Exercise, and Nutrition (LEAN), randomly assigned 100 overweight breast cancer survivors into one of three weight-loss groups: in-person counseling; phone counseling; or the usual-care group, who received only educational materials on healthy lifestyle recommendations. The women on average were 60 years old and had completed active treatment three years previously.

The women in counseling, phone and face-to-face, were asked to monitor their portion sizes, fat intake, added sugars, fiber and sodium. They were given a pedometer and a goal, two tools previous studies suggest increase physical activity.

After six months, the two counseling groups lost comparable amount of weight, with the in-person group losing only slightly more on average than the telephone group. Women who received counseling lost approximately seven percent of their body weight; the comparison group lost about two percent.

Harrigan M, Cartmel B, Baglia M, Sanft T, Betzing L, Loftfield E, Playdon M, Irwin ML. Yale School of Public Health, New Haven CT. Efficacy of telephone vs. in-person counseling on weight loss in women treated for breast cancer: the lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition (LEAN) study.

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