People who survive cancer often experience a fresh lease of life. But the long and exacting treatment takes its toll on the health and well being of the survivors too. Most of the cancer survivors have been heard complaining of their inability to concentrate. This particular condition had been attributed to chemotherapy so far but recent studies have revealed that the so called ‘chemo brain’ may not be limited to patients who had gone through chemotherapy only.

The data retrieved from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey included 9,819 adults all over the age of 40 with 1,305 of them being cancer survivors. All the participants were questioned in detail about their mental fogginess which included periods of confusion or having difficulty in remembering past incidents.

The study results revealed that 8% of the participants who had no brush with cancer before reported memory loss to some extent while the number shot up to 14% for people with a history of cancer.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the cancer patients were 40% more likely to have memory impairment problems compared to the people who had no history of cancer. The researchers made allowances for age, general health conditions as well as education before arriving at this conclusion.

The American Association for Cancer Research conference held in Miami saw the study results being presented. Pascal Jean-Pierre belonging to the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine presented the findings. He also stated that the brain chemistry might be altered during the course of cancer treatment particularly by chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal therapy.  Psychological disturbances can be a cause for impaired memory as well. Apart from the actual methods of treatment, the disease itself  can also be held responsible for changing the chemistry of the brain.

Dr. Jean-Pierre went on to add that it should be considered as a national problem which can be treated successfully by using antidepressant drugs along with  certain behavioral interventions.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/health/research/12mental.html?_r=1&ref=health