A new study reveals that physical activity might alleviate emotional stress and improves subjective memory in breast cancer survivors.

The study, published on July 8 in the journal Psycho-Oncology, points out that incremented physical activity results in higher levels of self-confidence, less fatigue, and lower distress. The findings are also associated with lower levels of perceived memory impairment.

A new study reveals that physical activity might alleviate emotional stress and improves subjective memory in breast cancer survivors. Photo credit: Woman's Day
A new study reveals that physical activity might alleviate emotional stress and improves subjective memory in breast cancer survivors. Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Medical reports show up that breast cancer survivors often complain about memory problems as well as emotional stress. It has been discovered that such conditions might be alleviated throughout the physical activity.

Researchers at Northwestern University assessed memory and physical activity condition in breast cancer survivors dividing data into two groups. One group comprised self-reported data for 1,477 women across the country and the other one comprised accelerometers worn by 362 women to track their physical activity.

In both groups it was perceived that exercising reduces stress and fatigue, such benefits have a direct impact on memory impairment, as per scientists.

“Exercise may provide a way to cope with some of the stress experienced during and following a cancer diagnosis and may help women to feel more confident that they can cope with the cancer experience. We found moderate to vigorous physical activity actually benefits women psychologically and that, in turn, helps their memory,” said lead author Dr. Siobhan Phillips, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Findings showed up those breast cancer survivors presenting higher levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity, including jogging, brisk walking or any gym exercise class had fewer subjective memory problems. Further on, the study’s findings proved how beneficial physical activities result in breast cancer survivor women at a psychological level. Subjective memory is a cognitive condition in which there is an individual perception of remembrance. Subjective memory issues are related to emotional problems.

Study authors concluded that moderate to vigorous physical activity might provide psychological advantages which also result into better memory.

Researchers referred to the relationship between memory problems and the high-stress load cancer survivors experience. The mental and memory problems are not necessarily associated with chemotherapy or radiation treatments, a medical phenomenon called “chemo brain.” It seems like there are emotional problems breast cancer survivors develop during the entire process.

“Our research suggests these self-reported memory problems may be emotionally related. 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,” said Phillips.

While the study didn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship, the psychological and neurological benefits of physical have been proved in the survey. Self-confidence and less distress resulting from continuous exercises lead to fewer perceived memory problems.

Post cancer memory issues

As it was stated before, post cancer memory issues are also referred as chemo brain. It is about a mental fog commonly noticed before, during, and after cancer treatments.

Cancer patients present real vague yet distressing mental changes. Some people might consider the condition as an imagined brain condition. However, the extents of chemo brain have been largely studied and scientifically proved.

Chemo brain might be detected if cancer patients forget things they usually have no trouble recalling (memory lapses to remember remembering details like names, dates, and sometimes larger events). If they have troubles to focus on specific subjects, if they are no longer able to finish things they already started (slower and disorganized thinking), if they have troubles while multitasking (cancer patients sometimes become less able to perform more than one activity at the same time), if cancer patients are unable to remember common words (impossibility to find out the right words to finish a sentence).

According to chemo brain studies, there may be more than one cause originating the condition. Many cancer treatments, including certain kinds of chemo and radiation, can cause short-term, long-term, and delayed problems brain issues. Some cancer patients might present cognitive problems even if they never developed chemo brain. For others, brain problems appear after surgery, or there are other cases in which chemo brain is noticed when getting hormone treatments, such as those used to treat breast or prostate cancers.

However, other brain function problems can lead to chemo brain. Most of the chemo brain short-term problems might get better or disappear if the condition is treated.

Nevertheless, distressing mental changes associated with chemo brain might make people unable to get back to work, school or social activities. Chemo brain condition might affect cancer patients for the rest of their lives if it is not properly treated or if the patient presents more than one brain problem factor getting worse chemo brain issues.

Brain exercises, veggie diet, and daily routine’s schedule are just a few of the numerous options researchers have recommended to manage chemo brain. Family and friends’ support is also a useful option to face the mental condition.

Source: Science Codex