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Breast cancer survivor says her 120-pound weight loss helped save her life: ‘Strong, confident and healthy’


Tamara Loving, a mother of two from Huntington Beach, California, believes her dramatic weight loss helped her beat breast cancer.

In 2016, when she was 37, Loving embarked on a weight loss journey. After joining WeightWatchers and spending eight months of meal-prepping, healthy eating and exercising, she lost 120 pounds — down to 150 from her original weight of 270.

The very next year, after a routine mammogram, Loving was diagnosed with stage 1A hormone-receptorpositive breast cancer in June 2017.

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An initial biopsy confirmed the diagnosis — and Loving’s first treatment was a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection of the right side, she told Fox News Digital. 

The results of that procedure were alarming, as there were more tumors than the doctors initially thought. 

Tamara Loving of California is pictured before and after her 120-pound weight loss. (Tamara Loving/WeightWatchers)

Loving faced a choice between another lumpectomy to remove more of the tissue — or a mastectomy.

“Since they found more tumors than the imaging had shown, I became fearful that there was cancer that may have gone undetected,” Loving said. 

“Based on this, I decided to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction in November 2017 once I was healed from the previous surgery.”

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That surgery allowed Loving to avoid radiation therapy, and chemotherapy was not needed because the lymph node dissection results came back negative. 

Loving officially went into remission six months after her diagnosis, in November 2017.

The obesity-cancer connection

Dr. Brett Osborn, a neurologist and longevity expert in Florida, has long warned of the dangers of obesity, including a higher risk of cancer.

“Cancer, like all non-infectious, age-related diseases, is underpinned by inflammation,” he told Fox News Digital. “And obesity is an inflammatory disease resulting from the overconsumption of simple carbohydrates in the context of a sedentary lifestyle.”

Dr. Brett Osborn

Dr. Brett Osborn, a neurologist and longevity expert in Florida, has long warned of the dangers of obesity, including a higher risk of cancer. (Dr. Brett Osborn)

For breast cancer in particular, Osborn noted that the disease is 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to occur in obese post-menopausal women than those with normal body mass index (BMI). 

“And some cancers are two or three times as likely to occur in obese or overweight patients,” he said.

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Obesity can also make it more difficult to fight cancer after a diagnosis, Osborn added.

“If you are obese and fighting cancer, you are trudging uphill, shouldering a 100-pound rucksack,” he said. “You are certainly not stacking the deck in your favor.”

Conversely, if someone loses body fat, they will have a reduced chance of developing cancer and also will be better equipped to fight it, Osborn said.

Tamara Loving with family

Tamara Loving is pictured with her husband and two children after her weight loss and cancer recovery. (Tamara Loving)

“Why? The promoters for cancer growth have been eliminated — namely, the high levels of circulating blood sugar and inflammation,” he said. 

“So not only are you increasing your risk of beating cancer, but you are also getting leaner. And a leaner body — within reason — is a healthier body.”

Tamara Loving

Tamara Loving (second from right) is shown with her husband and two children after her weight loss and cancer recovery. (Tamara Loving)

Dr. Lori Alfonse, deputy physician in chief at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute in Pennsylvania, agreed that obesity increases cancer risk and makes it more difficult to overcome the disease.

“Obesity has many effects on the body, two of which include insulin resistance and decreased mobility,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“When the body’s insulin does not work well, overall glucose levels remain high and can cause poor wound healing after surgery.”

“If you are obese and fighting cancer, you are trudging uphill, shouldering a 100-pound rucksack.”

“Decreased mobility can set a breast cancer patient up for increased risk of deep vein thromboses or blood clots, as the cancer makes the person’s blood thicker and stickier than normal,” she warned. 

“Most importantly, obesity, especially after menopause, increases a person’s risk of breast cancer recurrence.”

Dr. Yvonne Estrin, a radiologist and breast imaging specialist at the University of Miami, noted that fat cells have an enzyme called aromatase that produces estrogen — and estrogen exposure is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer. 

“The more fat you have, the more estrogen you make, thus the increased risk,” she said. “Many breast cancers are estrogen receptor-positive, so the excess estrogen can fuel the tumor cells to divide rapidly.”

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Someone with obesity may have a harder time fighting breast cancer simply because of the taxing treatment and surgery, Estrin said. 

“They are more prone to adverse consequences of surgery and anesthesia,” she noted. “The increased estrogen produced by fat tissue may also pose a problem with hormone therapy treatments.”

Winning weight-loss recipe

The year before her breast cancer diagnosis, Loving embarked on a weight loss journey that combined regular exercise and nutrition.

“A typical week of workouts includes five days in the gym and the other two days [of] doing recreational activities, such as hiking in the mountains, bike riding or walking along the beach with my husband,” she shared with Fox News Digital. 

Tamara Loving

“Today, I feel strong, confident and just overall healthy, thanks to the lifestyle changes and habits I adopted,” Loving said. (Tamara Loving)

In the gym, Loving starts with 30 minutes of interval training on the elliptical machine. After that, she alternates between 30 minutes of walking on an incline on the treadmill or 30 minutes on the stair climber.

After her cardio-based workouts, Loving does either weight training, rowing or stretching.

On the nutrition front, Loving said she stocks up on fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy items to keep her week on track. 

“Some factors known to affect breast cancer risk lie outside our control, but many are modifiable with simple lifestyle changes.”

“I put an emphasis on almost all of my meals being home-cooked and fresh to prioritize clean eating rather than [having] processed takeout food,” she said.

“I have established effective meal combinations that not only satisfy with a good taste, but also contribute to proper nutrition,” she also said. “This makes it easy to determine my meals for the day when I wake up in the morning because every day looks slightly different.”

Life-changing benefits

Beyond helping her overcome her cancer, Loving told Fox News Digital the additional benefits of her 120-pound weight loss.

“My body is now able to be more active and overall in a better, more youthful condition,” she said.

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“The weight loss improved my cardiovascular health and sleep patterns, and reduced the amount of joint pains,” Loving continued. “It also improved my mental health by reducing anxiety.”

She also said, “Today, I feel strong, confident and just overall healthy, thanks to the lifestyle changes and habits I adopted.”

Woman lifting weight

In addition to doing cardio workouts, Loving alternates between weight training, rowing or stretching. (iStock)

Following her weight loss, Loving was hired by WeightWatchers after 15 years of being a stay-at-home mom.

“This has helped me maintain my weight loss and lifestyle while also enabling me to help others change their own lives and reach their own health goals,” she said.

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Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, medical director at WeightWatchers and an obesity and lipid specialist in San Diego, recommends that anyone with obesity who has had cancer in the past contact their oncologist about whether losing weight is a suitable strategy to prevent recurrence.

“Some factors known to affect breast cancer risk lie outside our control, but many are modifiable with simple lifestyle changes,” he said. 

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