Lighter Life Diet and possible link with breast cancer

It’s something that has been bothering me for many months now. Could being on a diet such as the Lighter life diet, where you lose loads of weight in a short amount of time contribute to developing breast cancer. I lost 4 stone and found a lump …just like the nurse that hit the papers in 2009. At first I thought as she did that if I hadn’t lost the weight I wouldn’t have found it. But, could all the extra oestrogen that was released from the fat cells have aided / contributed to the cancer in the first place. I was 100% hormone positive.

I now know of 3 people personally who found a lump in their breast having done this diet during / prior .
Has anyone else done the diet or know if anyone who has done it then found out they had breast cancer?

Am I going nutty thinking about this?? I’m now 2 years down the line and want to lose weight again…dare I risk the diet again?

any comments greatly received.

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Let me second what Norberte said. We all tend to beat ourselves up about things we have done and haven’t done, partly because the popular press has taught us to believe that as women our ailments must be our ‘fault’. The overwhelming risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman. Don’t beat yourself up over your diet, just eat healthily.

This has crossed my mind too- I did lipotrim which is basically lighter life in different packaging. It was hell on earth but I lost 2.5st on it a few years back. I did it again a few months after having my son + a few months before finding the lump. I felt really sick + weak 2nd time round + nearly fainted whist out with the baby ao stopped it after a fortnight. It’s a terrible shock to the system - virtually starvation + I wonder whether my imune system was affected as a result? I certainly wouldn’t do anything so drastic ever again- try a healthy weightloss plan like low g.i or weightwatchers.
Good luck
tina x
btw, my bc is triple negative so no estrogen links there but who knows?

I think norberte’s posts sums it up.Also being overweight increases your risk of breast cancer, they say for post menopausal women but I think it’s probably the same for premenopausal in some cases (just my opinion), so losing the weight is a good thing.I am struggling at the moment I have lost a bit of weight but want to lose at least 2 more stone.It takes about a week to put on a stone and a blooming year to lose it(well in my case it does lol).

A work friend of mine went on this diet she did lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time which I dont think is good and she has now piled the weight back on. I couldn’t do the lighter life diet.

Best wishes Melxx

I also discovered my lump having lost 2st by going to Weightwatchers, and assumed that is was simply that with less breast tissue it was easier to feel. I certainly don’t think that there is a proven link with drastic diet plans and BC.
Norberte has expressed my thoughts well, however, I would add that my oncologist has repeatedly told me that the most positive thing that I can do for myself is keep my weight down as my BC is ER+.
I thought it would make it easier for me than usual as I have a real reason for eating well, but it hasn’t and I have gained the stone I lost last summer following my recon! I am certainly not planning on trying anything other than sensible eating and exercise though.
We should all be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up about how we came to have BC in the first place.
Jacqui x

Thanks Ladies…! I absolutely know how I should eat - it’s just putting it into practice. I did do really well on the LL diet and kept off the weight until the 3rd bout of chemo and then the lbs started to go back on and by the end of the treatment incl rads etc (too tired to do anything for months - or so it seemed) I had gained 2 stone. BCN said - oh that’s normal…great! I’ve now crept on even more - as I have not really incorporated much exercise due to joint pain (tamoxifen does seem to play its part here but the onc/docs say otherwise).

I only posted as it just seemed so coincidental. Perhaps I have an exaggerated imagination!

Thanks all.

Lost about two stone in four months before my dx, too. But dieted through my GP and dietian. Dont think either there is a link between BC and weight loss. Have made an effort to keep my weight stable since then, too fond of my “skinny jeans” now! Have done lighter life in the past to loose babyweight, it made me physicall sick to the point of fainting and gave it up after a month. x

Hi flo62 I totally agree with you about putting it into practice it is really hard to lose weight and I think as you get older it seems harder.I am thinking of joining a Rosemary Conley class, I did this about 8 years ago and and lost a couple of stone and you get an exercise work out at the class as well.

All the best Melxx

I do wonder about Lighter Life being a safe way to diet. I was on a course recently with a lady who had lost 7 stones in as many months on it and she came over as being a nervous wreck with serious food issues. She was back in lighter life because she said she had gained 4lbs over Christmas. The course was 2 sessions a week apart and at the second session she said she had lost a further 9lbs doing LL for the past week. I just felt it was too extreme and I don’t think the issues she had were being fully addressed by the LL counsellor she was seeing, who basically just told her what her food triggers were, but she already knew this.

On a personal note, I just couldn’t stick to something involving meal replacement in the form of shakes, instant soups and bars, so all credit to anyone who has the discipline to do this.

I joined a gym with my other half at the end of last year and we do an hour 2 - 3 mornings a week. Both of us have gained 8lbs each, but our waistbands are loose and our spare tyres are going. I guess we are gaining muscle and have read with the gym you gain weight before you lose it. I bought 2 pairs of trousers in December that were a snug 16 but they now fit and we are both hoiking our jeans up by the waistband.

Mmmmm, I searched this very situation via Google and ended up here. I too lost a lot of weight with Lighter Life in 2007 and last June was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I gained weight with a new relationship and returning to bad eating habits. Anyway, annoyingly enough even Chemo and Radiotherapy hasn’t made my appetite wane. Now I’m on Tamoxifen for 5 years and that too appears to be sharpening my appetite! Someone suggested I go back to LL and for the reasons you describe, I too am wary. It’s the old trade off, carrying extra weight isn’t healthy versus the possibility that swift weight loss may promote further cancer…I would also welcome some firm advice rather than speculative, x

I was a cambridge diet consultant and nutritionist. I lost 3 stone in 2.5 months. I think its the best thing that happened for me to lose that weight, im HER2 pos and hormone neg. so who knows what causes cancer. I think it is a genetic given thing that you are either more prone or not. Yonks ago it was polio, scarlet fever, now we have cancer.
Should just say also i dont know about Lighter life but Cambridge is strictly controlled with one to one counselling, medical conditions etc. The diet has been rigorously tested over the years. With these diets they need to be monitored very closely and followed with the correct water and food if recommended. The products cover all the nutritional requirements. The state of ketosis should be a very light state and when tested with keto sticks should only just be out of the pink. Any darker you are dehydrated. This is why its important to have a good one to one counsellor to make sure that all is going well and it is essential that you visit weekly and have contact with the counsellor through the week. You are not allowed to do the diet for one month before surgery and 3 months after surgery. You would not be allowed to do the diet without a gp recommendation thats if you would be allowed to do it at all after cancer.

It had crossed my mind that losing weight really quickly could have an effect on the amount of oestrogen in the body - as oestrogen is stored in fat. If you lose fat quickly - what happens to the oestrogen? I don’t know, but it’s a possible extra risk factor.

As a person who’s had disordered eating since my teenage years I would say that any extreme diet which results in weight-loss of more than 2-3lbs a week is dangerous. It skews your thinking and causes your body to go into starvation mode, which is what ketoacidosis is. Regardless of how ‘medically’ this is ‘monitored’ it’s not good for you. The oestrogen link sounds plausible, though it would be hard to link this to the development of bc in the first place - maybe it has an effect on the growth of er+ tumours but we don’t know that.
I would say that healthy eating and an active lifestyle is an end in itself, and weight-loss should happen slowly as a result of this. As some of you have said, it’s not easy to go through the upset and tx for bc and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I really struggled with my eating while I was stressed, and found it hard to walk more that a short distance for a while.
I’ve found over the years that it’s better not to beat yourself up about what you eat when you’re upset - it causes all kinds of negative thinking and is really counter-productive. Just do what you have to to get through, and try in the long run to eat well most of the time, and to exercise within your capabilities when you can.

I honestly think that as BC is so common there are bound to be people who unfortuately get diagnosed after doing ANY diet radical or otherwise- plus as someone else said the weight loss may be what makes the lump more obvious as there is less fat to cover it up.

I was overweight before my DX last year & intend to loose weight after active treatment is over this summer. unluckily Iam TN so no tamoxifen but at least I won’t have to contend with any weight gain from that! - I plan to do weight watchers but wouldn’t rule out something like lighter life as I still think the risks from obesity outweigh the risks from dieting even if drastically done. My sister did LL last year & lost 3 stone & feels better than she has in years

Can I make a plea here for healthy eating. You can lose weight/fat by following a very simple normal healthy diet, the way we’ve eaten for thousands of years. Small chamges make big differences.

Eat as few processed foods as possible.

Cook your own meals then you know what’s in them

Always have wholegrain wholefoods

Eat more pulses less meat

Big salads every day, ie lettuce, grated carrot, finely sliced cabbage, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, seeds, beetroot, olives, whatever you can think of.

Forget low fat dressings out of a bottle. Use olive oil and vinegar or make an eastern style dressing with vinegar, water, a little sugar, chile and spices if you dont’ want the oil.

Eat more than 5 a day, a good variety.

Don’t buy ‘lite’ ‘low fat biscuits’ These have extra sugar to make up for low fat. If you eat them your blood sugar rockets, plumets and leaves you starving hungry. Have a bar made of dried fruit instead Nakd are good.

Drink more water.

You’ll save money too If you need the support of an organisation to keep you motivated go to your doctors and get weighed there every week or involve friends.

I can’t see how following any diet can lead to Breast Cancer so please don’t beat yourself up about it. Losing fat if you’re ER+ can help you in future as someone here has already posted as advised by their Onc.

Good luck and if anyone wants to message me I’ll offer yuo any support I can. There’s a thread on this site about exchanging healthy recipes and trying to keep our food interesting, tasty and nutritious, for all the family. We do eat cake.

Sorry if I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, but I have been wondering about rapid weight loss diets from another angle. I was reading about the theory that restricted calorie intake can lengthen lifespan. The theory is that if someone consistently consumes 20% fewer calories than they should have, the body diverts energy it would otherwise use for reproductive purposes, into survival. Proponents of this lifestyle apparently claim that it is possible to live to 120 using this technique (don’t think any have managed it though). Obviously, I appreciate that it’s probably all rubbish, and has never been proven, but the point is, if it works at all, it must be at a cellular level - so would that impact on cancer cells?.

It isn’t all rubbish but it’s very complex and the research seems to still be in early stages. It seems that lowering dietary intake can affect certain enzymes.

If anyone is interested in some of the science about this:

Personally I think its very unlikely that the Lighter Life diet had anything to do with people developing cancer. It is more likely to be a complete coincidence. Elinda x

By the way I should add (as things can be misinterpreted on this site) that I in no way think people should be trying out any diets that are very calorie restricted without medical supervision.
That research is so complex and there are lots of other implications linked to nutrition and health in those who diets are so restricted. Elinda x

Having never heard of Lighter Life I just Googled it and found some alarming “facts”. For example - did you know that 2.5 million British men are too fat to see their own penis beneath their beer guts?

Did crash dieting cause your cancer? No.
This whole issue seems to be yet another way for women to beat themselves up over getting cancer.