Women's Health

Study Shows Physical Activity Eases Chemo Brain for Breast Cancer Survivors

Study Shows Physical Activity Eases Chemo Brain for Breast Cancer Survivors

Study Shows Physical Activity Eases Chemo Brain for Breast Cancer Survivors

Researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have reported an initial study conducted in breast cancer survivors in order to demonstrate the association of an increase in physical activity and mental processing speed. All participants were between the ages of 21-86 as well as diagnosed and treated for breast cancer just 5 years prior to participation in the study. 

In breast cancer survivors an initial study was conducted by the researchers from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. In breast cancer survivors this study showed the association of increase in mental processing speed and physical activity. The participants enrolled were in the age group of 21 to 86 and just five years prior to participation in study they were diagnosed and treated.

For one week all women on their hips wore accelerometer before the study was initiated. This could measure the physical activity and compares it during the beginning and end of the study. Women were divided into two groups. In a three month exercise program 44 women were enrolled. The program was customized according to the ability of each woman. In a three month control program 44 women were enrolled. This program focussed on emails related to the stress levels, healthy eating, women’s health and overall brain health. To provide feedback and encourage engagement in moderate to strenuous physical exercise of not less than 150 minutes per week, the data was collected at the time of study.

Assistant professor Sheri Hartman in the department of family and preventive medicine states that a decline in brain function is experienced by breast cancer survivors irrespective of whether they receive chemotherapy or not. This impacts thinking, concentration and memory. The cognitive processing speed and perceived mental abilities improved in the women who participated in the physical activity intervention. Hence among breast cancer survivors, exercise could be a way to improve cognition.

This study is first of its kind and to analyze the overall influence of physical activity on breast cancer survivors it uses a self-reported technique and a computer based cognition test.

A double improvement in mental processing speed was demonstrated by women in the exercise program. Also the improvement in cognition ability was three times more than that in control group. For improving cognition aspects and speeding up mental processing, longer and larger clinical trials are recommended by the researchers. These clinical trials will determine the duration necessary for physical activity.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer there are several other ways in which you can benefit:

  • Exercise helps lower the risk of recurrence
  • Also it lowers the risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Side effects of the treatment is reduced
  • Loss of muscle tone is reduced
  • Sleeping patterns are improved
  • Mobility is improved
  • Bones become healthier
  • Energy and strength increases
  • Mental wellbeing and overall mood increases

Several factors such as lifestyle choices, genetics and surrounding environment can increase the risk of breast cancer. But there are various ways through which these risk can be reduced. According to statistics the risk of breast cancer is reduced by 10-20 percent by regular physical activity. It can benefit the survivors in the following ways:

Weight control is improved

  • Reduction in fatigue
  • Reduction in anxiety levels
  • Muscle strength improves
  • Cardiovascular health improved
  • Risk of breast cancer recurrence is reduced

On a weekly basis, exercise of 150 minutes is recommended to be performed. Strive to get moving if you have difficulty. Per week exercise for 3-4 hours that is 20-30 minutes per day. It is better to do some activity rather than doing no activity at all.