Brain power and intellect
A number of studies have reported a reduction in brain power after cancer treatments including surgery, chemotherapy or whilst taking hormone therapies. This can be exacerbated by fatigue or other drugs such as pain killers, sedatives or antidepressants. Other medical conditions can effect cognitive function such as an under active thyroid or anaemia.
official name for this condition is impairment of cognitive function and can manifest
itself as a loss of memory, inability to concentrate or both. At the same time
patients routine lifestyle may have been disrupted by the cancer and its
therapies. Patients may not have the same intellectual stimulation in the work
place or social interaction with friends and colleagues. Fortunately, this is
often a temporary situation (especially after chemotherapy - "chemo
brain" ) although it may require a lot of hard work and time to correct.
How can you help:
eat well - plenty of nuts, fish, polyphenol rich foods such as herbs and spices. Avoid sugary foods as these cause fluctuations in blood sugar. Consider an omega 3 fish oil supplement if you do not already eat fish three times a week.
stop smoking - tips to quit
exercise - apart from other benefits, exercising gets you out of the house, changes your environment and provides visual and intellectual stimulation. It also increases the oxygen to the brain by generally improving the health of the circulation.
avoid alcohol - we are all aware of the muzzy headedness which occurs with even the mildest of hangovers
consider a probiotic supplement - although data is not yet conclusive, a study from California showed that women who consumed regular probiotics had an an improved brain function and less anxiety - read more
get a good nights sleep - see sleep hygiene tips
be socially active - the brain, like a muscle, gets stronger with use, particularly if it is used in certain ways; engage in interesting conversations, try to stimulate the brain at every opportunity; pick up a magazine, for example, while you are waiting for the dentist; scan the articles and relate what you learn to what you already know; you might expand your knowledge, but the purpose of this brain exercise is to train yourself to automatically look for connections between things; this helps you think more creatively; it also helps your memory, because having more connections makes it easier to recall things
learning something new - a
good way to learn something new, and at the same time use your driving time
efficiently, is to listen to audio books; you can find books on tape or compact
disc at many public libraries; you can also access a wide selection of titles,
both fiction and non-fiction, at several online suppliers.
- if your singing is as bad as mine,
this exercise may be best performed alone; when you are alone in your car, for
example, try singing about something you are working on; this taps into and
exercises your right brain; Have you ever noticed how it is easier to rhyme when
you sing than when you just speak or write? This is because the right brain is
better at pattern recognition. By doing this brain exercise regularly you can
train yourself to tap into the power of the right brain. This will make you a
more effective problem-solver. If you doubt the distinction between the
hemispheres of the brain, look at how stutterers can stop stuttering as soon as
they start singing.
buying a book on brain exercises such as crossword puzzles or solving lateral
thinking puzzles. After doing these brain exercises a few times, you'll find it
becomes easier. Try to consider exercises which are also fun such as books on
hard riddles which you can read yourself or share with friends:
Why wasn't Bertha put in jail after killing dozens of people? - Because she was a hurricane.
Why is there only one monopolies commission?
If we developed from monkeys, why are there still monkeys around?
What is the one place in the world you can find justice? - In the dictionary.
Imagination and day dreaming have been associated with improved brain power. Imagine different rooms in your house and how they would look decorated differently. Look out the window, image how it would look at the different seasons or covered with snow.
can be impaired by anxiety or be pre-occupied with negative unconstructive
thoughts. To learn better concentration, practice identifying "mind"
irritations. Anything that is going on just below the surface is sapping your
ability to concentrate. When you become aware of these things, you can put them
on a list or otherwise dismiss them. Meditation can help with this, but simple
mindfulness exercises may be enough to let your natural powers of concentration
function. A qualified psychological counsellor may also be useful in this
situation in clarifying the thought process.
there is no question that exercising your brain makes it work better. In fact,
as well as improving recovery after treatments a more active brain has been
shown to postpone or reduce the incidence of age-related decline of mental
Helpful resources and links
What is cancer;
cancer treatments; Chemotherapy
| Radiotherapy |
Hormones | Biological
agents | Complementary.
advice; Exercise |
Smoking | Sunbathing
| Alcohol. Cope
with symptoms; Traveling
| Insurance | Tests
for cancer | Clinical trials. ...site
|Micro-nutrient testing Empower yourself to make dietary choices specific to your personal make up. This Cancer Risk Nutritional Profile, analyses your blood profile and recommends specific dietary and supplement advice to ensure you have the best possible nutritional status to fight cancer an aid recovery from treatments....read more|
|Download a free chapter describing how to avoid cancer forming chemicals (Carcinogens) in our diet and environments from the new edition of the best selling evidence based book "Lifestyle after Cancer - the facts"|
|Protect your lips during chemotherapy There is evidence that natural oil based creams are better than petroleum based creams. natureMedical lip balm has been specifically design to soothe and moisturise the lips during and after chemotherapy or after sun exposure. It only contains only natural waxes and essential oils selected for their anti-inflammatory and DNA stabilizing properties...read more/order|
|Protect your nails during chemotherapy. Nails can become painful and disfigured during and after chemotherapy. We describe the latest nail care guidelines and number of useful tips to keep them healthy, including cooling and moisturizing ...read more|
|Keep-healthy.com Practical evidence based advice on healthy living including ways to naturally reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, keep healthy eyesight, hearing, maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness. Includes advice on supplements and other useful products...link|
|Support groups and self help organisations throughout the UK and internationally. Links to Asian support organisations; Read patient stories, poems and links to the Cancer active website addressing a wide range of complementary issues related to cancer and their a quarterly magazine (ICON).. submit a link to your group|