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HOPE for FATIGUE

Alleviating Fatigue in Breast Cancer

Fatigue is the most common and debilitating symptom experienced by patients suffering from cancer. Approximately 30% of survivors report moderate to severe fatigue that may persist for up to 10 years after their treatment concludes. This disabling symptom can impact work, social relations, and daily activities, leading to diminished overall quality of life.

The occurrence of fatigue is often due to damage or dysfunction in the nervous, immune and gastrointestinal systems. Supporting each of these systems with the right micronutrients is a necessary component for recovery.

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is characterized by constant physical and/or mental tiredness that is unrelated to activity and not relieved by rest. These symptoms can also be accompanied by depression, insomnia and cognitive impairment, which is often poorly addressed by most oncologists.

Several mechanisms can be responsible for CRF including immune dysfunction, infection, impaired digestion, and mitochondrial damage. All of these issues need to be properly addressed in order to restore optimal health. Proper nutrition, gentle exercise and a comprehensive supplement program are the best place to start..

Chemotherapy Drugs Linked to Mitochondrial Toxicity

Side effects of many common chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer, as well as radiation therapy, have been shown to directly damage nerves resulting in a painful condition known as peripheral neuropathy. Chemotherapy and radiation may also contribute to fatigue and decreased cognitive function, referred to as “chemo brain”, by damaging the part of the cell (mitochondria) which produces energy.

Treatment Options for Alleviating Fatigue

Because patients who have previously undergone cancer treatment with either chemotherapy or radiation may be suffering from mitochondrial damage, it makes sense to help rebuild healthy mitochondria with the following nutrients:

Antioxidants

Studies have shown that patients suffering with chronic fatigue can improve with supplementation of mitochondrial nutrients and antioxidants, including acetyl-L carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). This triad of key nutrients has been shown to reduce damage to mitochondrial membranes, restore energy production, protect cellular structures from oxidative damage, and decrease fatigue. Other antioxidants such as B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E may also help restore healthy mitochondrial and immune function.

Curcumin

Curcumin, the most active ingredient found in the spice turmeric, has been shown to exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, support the body’s detoxification pathways and strengthen the immune response. Evidence from preclinical studies has shown that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. Because absorption of this compound is limited due to its low water solubility, intestinal instability and rapid elimination, selecting a curcumin supplement with strong bioavailability is particularly important for this phytonutrient.

Probiotics

Cancer therapies can significantly alter healthy bacteria in the gut that promote digestion and healthy immune function. This can contribute to symptoms such as depression, brain fog and headaches that often accompany cancer treatment.

Taking a daily probiotic supplement, along with eating a diet rich in food-based probiotics (unsweetened yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut), may be helpful in replenishing the important balance of beneficial bacteria often destroyed during chemotherapy treatment.

Pharmaceutical Options

Limited pharmaceutical options currently exist for CRF. Low doses of stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall are frequently used off-label by oncologists to help cancer patients continue functioning despite fatigue. In one study, patients experienced a substantial improvement in fatigue with 10-20 mg of methylphenidate (generic Ritalin) per day.

Conclusion

Supporting the health of your mitochondria may help alleviate the debilitating fatigue associated with breast cancer treatment. Combining mitochondrial support nutrients plus a low-dose stimulant medication, may help boost energy levels and decrease symptoms of brain fog.

K-PAX Pharmaceuticals offers an “After Chemo Pak” that includes the key micronutrients and antioxidants listed above. To learn more, click here: K-PAX After Chemo Pak

The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.

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Bioavailability is Key When Choosing a Curcumin Supplement

Curcumin, the most active medical ingredient found in the spice tumeric, has recently gained attention for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Though relatively new to the supplement shelf, this compound has long been used in Asian countries for its medicinal value.

Increasing evidence from preclinical studies has shown that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. In addition to acting as an effective scavenger of free radicals, curcumin aids immune function and supports healthy cell reproduction. Ongoing research is also evaluating the effect of curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive function.

Numerous studies have also shown curcumin is able to block inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and even reduce neuro-inflammation. Inflammation is now believed to contribute to every major disease, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, says Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, professor of medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. “Wherever inflammation is a problem, curcumin may be helpful.”

So what is the difference between turmeric, curcuminoids, curcumin and the various available formulations?

While these three terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a bright yellow spice of the ginger family (Zingiberacear) that has been used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, China, and India for cooking and medicinal use. It is a primary component of curry powder. Within the turmeric plant is a family of active compounds (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin). Curcumin is the compound within turmeric that has been shown to exhibit the greatest health benefits and comprises the highest percentage of active compound in commercial products. (The typical ratio of curcuminoids is 77% curcumin, 17% demothoxycurcumin and 3% bisdemethoxycurcumin.)

Bioavailability is Key

Though curcumin performs a wide range of biological activities, absorption of this compound is very limited due to its low water solubility, intestinal instability and rapid elimination. In essence, it is difficult to consume enough curcumin for it to exert a bioactive effect. Several studies have demonstrated that oral administration of curcumin may not effectively deliver curcumin to tissues outside of the gastrointestinal tract. This has limited its therapeutic use and caused researchers to search for more effective means of delivery.

Companies are using several strategies in an attempt to improve curcumin’s bioavailability, with varying degrees of success. These include co-administration with adjuvants like piperine (a component of black pepper), complexes created with essential oils, and encapsulation into nanoparticles, liposomes, and phytosomes. Two formulations that have demonstrated evidence of clinical relevance are Theracurmin® and Longvida®.

Theracurmin® by Integrative Therapeutics

A recent bioavailability study of three standard delivery modes of curcumin showed the Theracurmin®  formulation to be 27 times more bioavailable than several other preparations. Theracurmin uses a novel preparation that dramatically increases absorption by reducing the size of curcumin particles. Utilizing this process, curcumin is reduced from an average particle size of 22.75 µm down to 0.19–0.3 µm—a reduction of over 100 times. This reduced particle size is then mixed with natural emulsifiers. The result of this process is a more stable formula with significantly higher bioavailability in humans than standard curcumin.

Learn more about Theracurmin® here.

Longvida® by Verdure Sciences

Longvida®, another curcumin preparation first developed by neuroscientists at UCLA and later licensed by Verdure Sciences, employs Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology. Longvida® has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier via its lipid particle delivery system. This lipid mechanism is thought to protect the curcumin from being prematurely dissolved by the stomach as it’s digested, thus enabling it to cross into the bloodstream and reach targeted areas.

In conclusion, when shopping for a curcumin supplement, it is important to look for a high quality product with high bioavailibity. People with gallstones or bile duct dysfunction and pregnant women should consult their physician before using curcumin.  

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Which Nutrients Help Your Body Best Recover From Chemotherapy and Radiation?

A personal message from Dr. Jon Kaiser:

You have finally finished your standard treatment but you still don’t feel quite back to normal. Maybe you’re more tired than usual, your digestion is off, or you are having trouble concentrating. These symptoms are reported by a surprising number of patients upon completion of cancer treatment. Studies have shown that 70-80% of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiotherapy experience debilitating fatigue that may last for months or years after the chemotherapy is finished.

Termed cancer-related fatigue (CRF), this condition limits a person’s ability to concentrate, decreases stamina, and can cause increased depression, and sensitivity to light. CRF is different from average tiredness, as most people with CRF don’t see improvement with additional rest or sleep.

What are some of the reasons why this happens?

Cancer chemotherapy drugs are some of the most powerful cellular toxins used in medicine today. Their goal is to kill fast growing cancer cells while imparting somewhat less toxicity to healthy cells. Unfortunately, healthy cells are also affected by chemotherapy toxicity to some degree. This leads to many common chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, brain fog, nerve pain, and anemia.

In fact, the cells with the greatest risk of damage from oxidative stress (gut, blood cells and brain cells) are the ones that are most susceptible to damage from chemotherapy. Since it’s oxidative stress that’s causing the damage to your cells, it makes sense that supplementing your body’s level of key antioxidants may support its natural ability to eliminate these damaging toxins.

While there may be debate on exactly which nutrients to take, I’d like to make a few recommendations that, based on the research literature and my over 25 years of clinical experience, have the best chance of helping you feel well again!

1. Take a high-potency multivitamin with substantial levels of key antioxidants.

Taking a complete multivitamin will help insure that, regardless of your diet, your cells get an abundance of key micronutrients they need to heal, rebuild, and generate a good amount of energy. It should include adequate amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

You will fare even better if your multivitamin also contains substantial dosages of key antioxidants including alpha lipoic acid (100-400mg), acetyl-L-carnitine (500-1000mg), and N-acetyl-cysteine (600-1200mg) that work to recharge your system at the cellular level.

2. Consider trying a short course of a mild stimulant such as caffeine, Ritalin or Adderall (at a low dose) if you are suffering from severe fatigue, mental fogginess or alertness problems.

Brain fog, which also goes by the name “chemo brain”, is a distressing symptom that can occur after cancer patients receive chemotherapy. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that cognitive recovery after chemotherapy for women with breast cancer can take up to five years.

Low doses of stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are frequently used off-label by oncologists to help cancer patients continue functioning despite these symptoms. However, when stimulants are taken without providing the body key nutrients needed to properly metabolize these drugs, metabolic deficiencies can result. This can lead to poor tolerance and side effects.

In order for caffeine and other stimulants to have the best chance to exert their desired effects (increased energy and alertness), make sure you are giving your body the proper amount of key nutrients and antioxidants. These nutrients are helpful for the optimized metabolism of these drugs.

3. Take a curcumin supplement.

Curcumin has been shown to exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, support the body’s detoxification pathways and strengthen the body’s immune response.This powerful natural compound, derived from the spice turmeric, has shown promising effects in the fight against cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer cell development, growth and spread, even killing cancer cells in the test tube and shrinking tumors in animals. Additional studies have shown that curcumin promotes the repair of stem cells in the brain, which may explain its potential benefit to improve cognitive functioning in patients post-cancer treatment.

Many naturopathic practitioners currently recommend supplementing curcumin as part of their cancer recovery strategy.

4. Support the health of your gut with a high potency probiotic supplement.

Ten times more bacterial organisms live in your gut than there are cells in your body. These bacteria are intended to be friendly and symbiotic in nature, helping you to digest food and also producing important vitamins that keep you healthy. However such factors as stress, poor diet, antibiotics and most cancer therapies can significantly alter these bacteria to include organisms that wreak havoc with your digestion, mood and overall health.

In fact, there is now substantial evidence indicating that an unhealthy population of gut microorganisms can actually leak waste products (lipopolysaccharides) into the bloodstream that cross the blood-brain barrier and promote brain inflammation. This can contribute to symptoms such as depression, brain fog, sleepiness and headaches.

Eating a balanced diet rich in probiotic containing foods is important. These include organic unsweetened yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. However, taking a daily probiotic supplement may still be necessary to replenish the important balance of beneficial bacteria often destroyed during chemotherapy treatment. Studies have found that probiotics improve irritable bowel symptoms (IBS) and quality of life for colorectal cancer survivors. They have also been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of diarrhea symptoms in many cancer patients.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a probiotic supplements that contains at least one billion organisms per day. The most important bacteria is the Lactobacillus species. This species produces lactase, the enzyme required to break down lactose (milk sugar). Lactic acid also helps increase the absorption of minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, and iron.

Conclusion

In my opinion, treating cancer with chemotherapy and radiation treatments alone, without subsequently focusing on rebuilding the health of the gut, brain, and immune system, will be looked at as a major oversight in cancer care. Instituting the above recommendations can put you firmly back on the road to better health.

If you’d like to see all of these recommendations grouped together in a convenient package, please CLICK HERE for the After Chemo Pak. Finally, if there’s anyone you know who might benefit from this information, please pass it on.

Jon D. Kaiser, MD

Dr. Jon Kaiser has been treating patients with AIDS, cancer and other multisystem medical disorders for the past twenty-five years.  He is a Clinical Instructor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School and Chief Medical Officer of K-PAX Pharmaceuticals.

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The Top 5 Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Use

Chemicals in our everyday environment produce a toxic burden, which affects every system of our bodies right down to the mitochondria. Mitochondria make the energy our cells need to function properly. When mitochondria are exposed to environmental toxins, energy function fails and cells begin to die.

The high lipid content of mitochondrial membranes pull chemicals into the mitochondria like a magnet. This creates a disproportionate amount of these toxins inside the mitochondria. The higher or more frequent the exposure, the greater the likelihood of toxic effects occurring. The additive exposure to many of these chemicals coming from multiple sources spread out over decades is what’s most alarming. 

Toxic chemicals to watch for:

1.  Plastics and Fragrances (Phthalates)

Phthalates are used to soften plastics and help bind chemicals and scents (fragrances) together. Phthalates affect mitochondrial activities by altering the permeability properties of the inner mitochondrial membrane and inhibiting key enzymatic processes. These chemicals have been implicated in reproductive damage, depressed leukocyte function, and cancer. Phthalates have also been shown to impede blood coagulation, lower testosterone, and alter sexual development in children.

Phthalates are found in almost anything scented (shampoo, shaving lotion, nail polish, air fresheners, laundry detergent) cleaning products, insect repellent, carpeting, vinyl flooring, the coating on wires and cables, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, and your car’s steering wheel, dashboard, and gearshift. Medical devices are also full of phthalates—IV drip bags and tubing are made from phthalates to make them soft and pliable, effectively pumping them directly into the bloodstream of patients.

How to avoid phthalates:

  • Check plastic products: Plastic products with recycling codes 3 and 7 may contain phthalates or BPA. Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5. Whenever possible, avoid using plastic containers!
  • Avoid using plastic in the kitchen: Opt for glass food storage containers, and choose bottles and sippy/snack cups that are made of stainless steel, silicone, or glass. Do not heat food in plastic containers because the heat can accelerate the leaching of chemicals.
  • Shop wisely: Check your cosmetics and household products for the words, “fragrance” or “perfume” on a label which almost always means phthalates. Instead, look for items that say, “no synthetic fragrance” or “scented with only essential oils” or “phthalate-free.”

2.  Pesticides (OPs)

Organophosphates are one of the most toxic groups of substances used throughout the world. They are used in pesticides as well as biochemical weapons/agents. Organophospates target mitochondria and promote oxidative damage triggering cell death.

Organophosphates are also known as endocrine disruptors. They affect complex hormonal processes that regulate growth, metabolism, fertility and the immune system. OPs have also been linked to obesity, asthma, allergies and cancer. Children exposed to organophosphates have more than twice the risk of developing pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), an autism spectrum disorder.

How to avoid organophosphates:

  • EAT ORGANIC FOOD: Avoid exposure to pesticides in your diet, home and garden. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and organic green tea that contain high amounts of antioxidants that can bolster your immune system.
  • Avoid genetically-modified organisms (GMOs): One of the goals of GMOs is to enable the use of more pesticides.
  • Supplement with antioxidants: Antioxidant supplements have been shown to restore mitochondrial dysfunction caused by organophosphates. Key antioxidants are Vitamins C, E, CoQ-10, and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA).
  • Monitor your surroundings: Living near agricultural areas or golf courses that are regularly sprayed with pesticides increases your exposure.
  • Sweat it out: Regular aerobic exercise and sauna treatments can accelerate the elimination of systemic toxins.

3.  Plastics and Canned Foods (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a plasticizer found in a wide variety of consumer products, including water bottles (recycle #7), canned foods, and in credit card and cash register receipts. BPA is a strong mitochondrial toxin and has been linked to infertility, breast and reproductive system cancers, obesity, diabetes, and behavior changes. It has even been associated with resistance to chemotherapy treatment.

Manufacturers of baby bottles, sippy cups and sports water bottles switched to other plastics in 2009 upon mounting consumer pressure. Though the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles and children’s cups in 2012, the FDA still allows BPA in food cans. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies as when they ate fresh soup daily.

How to avoid BPA:

  • Limit your intake of canned foods: Choose fresh or frozen foods.
  • Go for powdered versus liquid baby formula: The packaging of powdered formula contains less BPA. If your baby needs liquid formula, look for brands sold in plastic or glass containers.
  • Check recycling labels: Favor plastic containers with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5..
  • Reheat foods properly: Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
  • Say no to receipts: If you handle a receipt, wash your hands before preparing or eating food. Keep any receipts in an envelope. Do not allow children to hold or play with receipts.

4.  Flame Retardants (PBDEs)

Brominated flame-retardants are used in various products to increase their resistance to fire and/or high temperatures. Often found in televisions, computers, insulation, foam products, including children’s toys and baby pillows, PBDEs have been shown to cause mitochondrial damage by increasing the production of free radicals. Exposure has been associated with neurotoxicity and thyroid conditions.

How to avoid PBDEs:

  • Know your materials: Look for products advertised as “free of flame retardant”.
  • Avoid exposure: The foam in sofas and pillows may contain large amounts of PBDEs. Replace any furniture with exposed foam.
  • Rid your home of dust: Use a high-efficiency HEPA filter vacuum to clean up PBDE particles that have shed in dust around your house.

5.  Antimicorbial Products (Triclosan)

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent used in personal care products (soap, toothpastes, shampoos, hand and household sanitizers, etc.). It can even be infused into kitchen utensils, toys, and medical devices.

Triclosan is a potent mitochondrial toxin. It interferes with muscle function disrupts hormone regulation and alters immune function. Triclosan’s biggest danger is its possible contribution to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs, leading many companies to begin removing it from their products.

How to avoid triclosan:

  • Don’t go antimicrobial: Avoid using handsoap and other household products labeled as “antibacterial”.
  • Check ingredients: Check labels for triclosan.

While it’s been said you can achieve “better living through chemistry”, scientific research is revealing that many common household products contain chemicals that have toxic effects on our health. However, armed with the above knowledge and a growing number of “environmentally-friendly” products on the market, you can limit your exposure to these toxic chemicals and protect yourself and your family from their health-damaging effects. Start by reducing your exposure to those that are most obvious.

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Taking Antioxidant Supplements During Cancer Treatment

The use of antioxidant nutrients as a complement to standard cancer treatments has risen in popularity despite varying reports of their effectiveness. While a review of the clinical data suggests that antioxidant intake can have some influence on the efficacy and side effects of cancer therapy, the results are sometimes contradictory, making it difficult to give general recommendations. These discrepancies may be related to the type of cancer, the mechanism of action of the drugs used in treatment, and the type of antioxidants taken.

Two opposing views exist regarding the use of antioxidants taken during cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation). One view takes a complimentary approach utilizing antioxidant supplements to improve the efficacy and/or tolerability of standard therapies. The alternate view, which is held by most standard oncologists, recommends against taking nutritional supplements during cancer treatment because of the possibility that antioxidants might protect cancer cells from damage by cancer treatments.

Evidence Supporting the Use of Antioxidant Supplements During Cancer Treatment

Several nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial or synergistic effect when used in conjunction with cancer treatment. When taken together, supplementation of soy protein, vitamin E, and selenium has been demonstrated to slow the progression of prostate cancer when taken with prostate cancer treatments. Similarly, in a study of 370 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer or gastrointestinal cancer, melatonin combined with chemotherapy increased the rate of tumor regression and survival better than chemotherapy alone.

Multiple studies demonstrate that high doses of supplementary antioxidant nutrients (vitamins A, C, and E and carotenoids) improve the negative effect of radiation therapy on cancer cell growth, and in some cases also protect normal cells against collateral damage. NAC and vitamin E have also been reported to decrease the incidence of toxic hepatitis and the need for blood transfusions in patients being treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Also, curcumin taken with radiation therapy has been shown to have a synergistic effect in reducing tumors in head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC).

Overall, NAC, melatonin, and some flavonoids (found in berries, citrus, bananas, onions, parsley, black tea, green tea, red wine and dark chocolate) appear to be the most promising antioxidants for cancer therapies.

Variable Interactions of Antioxidants in Cancer Treatment

Alternately, in other studies the use of antioxidants has been shown to have a negative effect when taken together with cancer therapy. While high doses of vitamins C and E have been shown to improve side effects when administered with radiation for HNSCC, there is also evidence that they may decrease the effectiveness of the treatment.

Similarly, vitamin C taken with certain chemotherapy agents has been shown to decrease the antitumor action of the drug in the treatment of breast cancer and even to accelerate tumor growth when given with the chemotherapy agent, doxorubicin.

Clearly, more research is needed on this subject for patients to best be able to determine the pros and cons of taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment. A helpful recommendation is to always let your physician know about any nutritional supplements or botanicals you are taking during treatment for any medical condition.

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Fatigue After Cancer Treatment Can Last Two Years or More

Studies have shown that 70-80% of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiotherapy experience debilitating fatigue. Out of this group, almost 50% experience fatigue most days during treatment. 

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) limits a patient’s ability to concentrate, decreases stamina, and causes increased anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to light. This type of tiredness is a typical side effect of cancer treatments. CRF is different from the average tiredness that most people experience as a result of normal daily life in that it is not relieved by rest or sleep, nor does it correspond to the patient’s level of exertion.

While cancer patients expect that CRF will subside upon completion of their treatment, especially if they have achieved a cure, fatigue often persist for months or even years following treatment.

Although CRF remains a persistent and troublesome side effect, very little is understood on how best to treat it. Overall, pharmacological treatment for CRF has not been successful. The majority of exercise studies have yielded mixed results and findings for psychosocial interventions on CRF are also mixed.

Complementary and integrative medicine approaches utilizing therapeutic touch, acupuncture as well as herbal and nutritional supplements to enhance immune function are often sought by patients for CRF. Studies on the efficacy of these modalities are limited.

Pharmacologic Therapies

Trials of antidepressants have also not yielded significant improvement in CRF. Two psychostimulant medications, modafinil and methylphenidate, have been used for CRF with varying results. Modafinil has been shown to only be effective in severe CRF and The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has restricted its use due to the occurrence of psychiatric side effects.

Methylphenidate has been found to relieve moderate-to-severe CRF significantly better than placebo in patients with advanced prostate cancer and gynecological tumors. Trial data suggests that methylphenidate is most effective for patients with severe CRF.

In palliative situations, corticosteroids can temporarily improve CRF and increase patients’ physical activity but they are only prescribed for a limited time due to immune-suppressive effects and the risk that steroid-induced myopathy might worsen CRF with prolonged use.

Non-pharmacologic Therapies

Integrative approaches using stress management, acupuncture/acupressure, relaxation techniques, massage, and yoga are considered to be valuable in the management of fatigue to a certain extent since they tend to promote overall wellbeing.

Nutritional supplementation using lipid replacement therapy (LRT) plus antioxidants has been used successfully as an adjunct supplement to reverse the adverse effects of cancer therapy and restore mitochondrial function.

By administering nutritional supplements and antioxidants, chemotherapy adverse effects can sometimes be reduced and mitochondrial and other cellular functions can be restored. Recent clinical trials using cancer and non-cancer patients with chronic fatigue have shown the benefit of nutritional supplements in reducing fatigue and protecting cellular structures and enzymes from damage.

Cancer-related fatigue remains an elusive and debilitating symptom to overcome and can last well beyond treatment. The key to managing CRF may lie in therapies that help reverse cellular damage and promote optimal cellular function.

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In the Fog with Chemo Brain

Cancer treatments are known to cause anemia, fatigue, and digestive distress, among other side effects, but what about the phenomenon of “Chemo Brain”?

Chemo brain, or chemo fog, is often described as a mental fog or cloudiness that affects people’s ability to concentrate and think clearly following chemotherapy treatment. These symptoms sometimes appear during treatment, as patients struggle with memory loss, confusion, difficulty with spatial orientation and even impaired math, language, and organizational skills.

While studies point to greater dysfunction linked to higher doses of chemotherapy, the origin of this dysfunction is not fully understood. Scientists consider several possible mechanisms to be the cause of the cognitive changes associated with chemotherapy treatments. The drugs may have direct neurotoxic effects on the brain or may indirectly trigger an inflammatory reaction in the brain caused by an immunological response.

Researchers are studying various interventions to counteract these cognitive impairments. One study has tested the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavior therapy following chemotherapy in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. After the intervention, these women showed significant improvements in verbal and decision-making abilities and reported subjective improvements in cognitive function and quality of life.

Other studies have investigated the use of antioxidants to improve memory function. It has been shown that chemotherapy can produce free radicals, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients carried to the brain by the blood, as well as cause inflammation of brain tissue. In a preclinical study published in the journal, Metabolic Brain Disease, memory deficiency was prevented in rats administered the antioxidant, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), during the course of chemotherapeutic treatment.

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