herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Cancer linked to higher risk of memory loss

People with a history of cancer are 40pc more likely to suffer memory problems than those who have never had the disease, research has shown.

Survivors who have been given the all-clear are likely to experience loss of functioning alongside those currently battling the disease.

Experts believe memory problems are caused by the effects of treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies, or due to the way the cancer tumours grow and behave, which could change brain chemistry.

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, focused on almost 10,000 people aged 40 and over in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Of the total sample, 1,305 people had cancer currently or had suffered in the past, while 8,514 had not had the disease.

Memory problems were reported more often by people who currently had cancer (14pc) than by those who did not (8pc).

People who had suffered suffered cancer in the past also had around a 50pc higher chance of suffering memory loss.

The researchers concluded: "Overall, participants with cancer had a 40pc greater likelihood of having memory problems that interfered with daily functioning.

"Strategies to assess and control this memory impairment for cancer patients and survivors are needed."

Their findings are believed to be some of the first from a nationwide sample of people with different cancers.

Lead researcher Dr Pascal Jean-Pierre said the condition goes beyond the so-called "chemobrain", which has been used to describe breast cancer patients undergoing chemo-therapy who have recorded problems with attention and memory.

hnews@herald.ie

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