Breakthrough: New finding could greatly help cancer survivors

Breakthrough: New finding could greatly help cancer survivors

Even after surviving breast cancer, many women continue to suffer with memory problems -- but a new study has found a possible solution.

If you’ve survived a bout with breast cancer, beware: excessive stress can result in memory problems. But there is one solution to this problem, a new study is claiming.

Researchers have found that moderate to vigorous exercise benefits women psychologically which can in turn improve memory, according to a Northwestern University statement.

This is a big deal because many survivors of breast cancer have had to go through chemotherapy or radiation treatments, which can result in memory problems for patients — a phenomenon often called “chemo brain.” But the study finds that these memory problems may have more to do with emotions and stress, as women who go through this experience are often frightened, fatigued and just suffering from low self-confidence.

The researchers based these findings on exercise data from 1,800 breast cancer survivors, including 362 women who wore devices called “accelerometers” that gathered more precise data on their movements. They found that greater levels of physical activity were linked to higher self-confidence and less stress, as well as fewer perceived memory problems.

“Our research suggests these self-reported memory problems may be emotionally related,” lead author Siobhan Phillips, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in the statement. “These women are frightened, stressed, fatigued, tapped out emotionally and have low self-confidence, which can be very mentally taxing and can lead to perceived memory problems.

“We found moderate to vigorous physical activity actually benefits women psychologically and that, in turn, helps their memory,” Phillips added.

The study was published July 8 in the journal Psycho-Oncology.

Medical experts have long preached exercise and regular physical activity as key to a healthy lifestyle, and that it can help reduce the risk of deadly diseases — even those that seem unrelated to how much physical activity that one gets, like cancer.

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