Cancer treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs is
often associated with many different side effects.
drugs are poisons that attack fast growing cells
(rapidly dividing cells). The
theory behind using these toxins is that it will
destroy the fast growing cancer cells before it does
too much damage to normal cells. You can read
more about the various forms Chemotherapy
There is a side effect that is debated as to existence but very real to those who suffer
with it. It is the problem which is often referred to as
"chemo brain" or "chemo fog".
Chemo-brain and chemo fog refer to:
a decline in
problems in retrieving
fumbling over words
losing one's train of
an inability to
trouble learning a new
It is not a problem
with forming memories or intelligence.
How long does Chemo
Sixty-one percent of chemo patients complained
of these problems, and even 1 year later, over half of these patients still did
not show any improvement. Recent studies published in the Journal of
Clinical Oncology suggest it may last for decades.
What are the causes of
In the past, some doctors thought that these
side effects are due to many reasons such as anxiety over having cancer,
fatigue, hormonal changes due to the treatments, and the medications used to
treat the other side effects of the chemotherapy drugs.
Nobody was sure whether this was linked to the drugs
used or whether it was a permanent chemo side effect.
Recently, medical doctors have been looking for
answers to this problem as it has become apparent that this was a real situation
for which many theories have been advanced.
on Chemo Fog
Scientific research published in 2008 done by
Mark Noble and fellow scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center,
New York,* found the scientific reasons for this problem.
In their study, they found that nerve cells
would become damaged and that this damage increased even weeks after the
administration of the chemotherapy drug was completed.
They found that the myelin sheath (protective
outer covering) of the nerve was damaged and that this damage often became worse
over time. In other words, the problem was caused by the loss of this fatty
insulation protecting the brain's vital nerve connections.
Dr. Mark Noble, team leader, said "This is
the first study that puts "chemo-brain" on a sound scientific footing,
in terms of neuro-biology and cellular biology."
Vitamin Deficiencies and Chemo Brain*
always recommend building health and nerves are no different.
The body uses vitamins to function which it normally gets from food. If the body becomes depleted of these vitamins, it cannot function correctly. Vitamin deficiencies can be created when the body is under different forms of stress - both physical and mental.
The stress of day to day life associated with cancer and its treatments, any medications used to deal with pain or any of the various side effects from chemotherapy, all deplete the body of vitamins, especially the B vitamins.
available in the Journal
of Biology, November 29 issue.
"CNS progenitor cells and oligodendrocytes are targets of
chemotherapeutic agents in vitro and in vivo" Joerg Dietrich, Ruolan Han,
Yin Yang, Margot Mayer-Proschel and Mark Noble Department of Biomedical
Genetics, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
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