New study uses Fitbit to test if weight loss can prevent breast cancer recurrence

Fitbit Charge HR

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Fitbit have teamed-up to support a study that investigates the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence. The Breast Cancer Weight Loss (BWEL) study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, will enroll nearly 3,200 overweight and obese women with early stage breast cancer to test if weight loss can help prevent their disease from returning.

Fitbit on its end will provide the study participants with the Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker, Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, and access to the FitStar by Fitbit service with personalized coaching to help them stay motivated and engaged along the way.

“The increased risk of cancer recurrence linked to excess body weight threatens to limit our progress in treating breast cancer and preventing women from dying from this disease,” Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, and lead investigator of the BWEL trial, said in a statement. “If this study shows that losing weight through increasing physical activity and reducing calories improves survival rates in breast cancer, this could lead to weight loss and physical activity becoming a standard part of the treatment for millions of breast cancer patients around the world.”

Participants in the BWEL study will be randomized to a two-year weight loss intervention, plus either a health education program designed to provide information about breast cancer topics, or to a health education program-alone control group. Patients in the weight loss group will work with a health coach over the phone to help them increase their exercise and reduce calories. Coaches will receive the participant’s data with their explicit consent to see how they are doing, give encouragement and a little nudge when needed to help participants stay on track.

“We are thrilled to partner with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on this type of intervention research, helping find the link between key behavioral changes and breast cancer recurrence, and potentially helping reduce the terrible burden of cancer for millions of women and their families worldwide,” Woody Scal, Chief Business Officer at Fitbit, said in a statement.

The study will begin in August 2016 and enroll women with breast cancer through oncology practices across the U.S. and Canada.