Can actemra cause weight gain?

Actemra, oh how we love to hate thee. This wonder drug has been a saving grace for so many people but also comes with various side effects that leave us scratching our heads in confusion and misery. One of those pesky side effects is weight gain – something we all dread like a cardboard-flavored protein shake.

What is Actemra?

Before delving into the big question, let’s first unpack what exactly Actemra is (cue scientifish jargon). It’s an interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) inhibitor drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), giant cell arteritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and cytokine release syndrome (not a Netflix movie genre).

The Skinny on Weight Gain

Weight gain can be caused by numerous factors such as overeating or under-exercising (duh), but when it comes to someone taking medication – especially one as heavy duty as Actemra – there are always concerns about possible causes.

It should be noted that not everyone who takes this medication will experience weight gain; however, it’s still important to understand why some do.

So…Can I Blame Actemra For My Expanding Waistline?

The short answer? YES! But wait, before you jump onto Google looking for ways to sue Roche Pharmaceuticals (the manufacturers based in Switzerland), know that it’s not just the medicine alone causing your extra fluffiness.

How Does It Work?

Here come the science-y explanations folks: weight gain associated with taking Actemra may be due in part to its ability to increase appetite and decrease metabolism, leading one down a greasy slope towards fast food nation. Additionally — nope I’m done with physicspeak — circulating concentrations of IL-6 have been linked with obesity and insulin resistance; decreasing IL-6 levels through Actemra treatment could lead to weight gain.

It’s worth noting that while a majority of patients taking Actemra don’t experience weight gain as the main side effect, some may end up gaining anywhere from 1-7 pounds. This does not seem like a lot initially, but it can add up over time.

The Good News

Now before you permanently retire your skinny jeans in favor of sweatpants and moo-moo dresses (no judgments here by the way), there are ways one can prevent or lessen the chances of packing on those extra lbs:

Diet Modification

This is definitely easier said than done (obviously), but modifying your diet to be more nutrient-dense and conducive to maintaining healthy bodyweight can help mitigate any unwanted gain.
Eat foods high in fiber: such as vegetable soups or salads, beans & legumes; consuming these types of dishes regularly will keep you feeling full longer.
Low-calorie options: incorporating low-fat yogurt into snacks or energizing smoothies makes for an easy calorie-conscious substitute for unhealthier options
Eliminating sugary drinks: changing acts as simple as switching from Coke and Pepsi to sparkling water with flavored drops will have sugar pangs quashed

Physical Activity

Unquestionably one technique towards lessening rapid drug-induced weight-gain would include exercise – seriously put down that potato crisps now! Things like walking for just twenty minutes per day followed up jogging intervals could do wonders toward trimming away fat over time totally naturally-ish.

Minimize Stress

Lastly reducing stress might decrease inflammation altogether according scientists so find activities which calm you down — no this none too medicinal!

Risk reduction involves balancing medication benefits with realistic lifestyle expectations: if gaining sufficient mobility vastly outweigh plain old increased appetite then, speak with your doctor/medical professional about drug alternatives.


In conclusion fellow human-beings: Actemra can cause weight gain as a side effect in some people but it is not always the sole or primary reason for gaining extra kilos. To manage this potential issue, one should maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and reduce stress levels; teamwork between physician and patient – asking questions whether practical information gleaned from this article or whatever else may arise – prove key toward achieving these goals.

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