After years of denials, excuses and stalling from conventional oncology over the existance of a multiple myeloma side effect called chemotherapy-induced cognitve dysfuntion aka chemo brain, the article linked and excerpted below conclusively establishes that chemotherapy can cause long-term brain damage.
If I sound a bit frustrated with conventional oncology it’s because I am. I began experiencing chemobrain events several years after my autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in 1995. Mostly memory-related problems but I also had severe problems with my multi-taking (executive function) and facial recognition.
After wrestling with conventional oncology and the short, long-term and late stage side effects caused by my induction chemotherapy, ASCT, and radiation I’ve learned to not expect oncology to be honest or upfront about anything negative regarding chemotherapy regimens. Not gonna happen.
Anything we figure out about multiple myeloma must come from multiple myeloma patients, survivors and caregivers.
I found the main article below to be pretty dense. But the key concepts, as far as this chemobrain survivor is concerned, is that the chemo drugs kill a type of cell called oligodendrocytes– this cell is central to the health of “myelin sheaths-” myelin sheaths act like a sort of insulation wrapped around an electric wire.
If the oligodendrocytes are damaged or destroyed, the myelin sheath deteriorates and nerve impulses necessary for the transfer of information (the process of thinking…) disintegrates.
The challenge of the newly diagnosed MM patient is that he or she probably will not make decisions about his/her therapy plan based on the fear of side effects like chemobrain. However, as a long-term chemobrain surivor myself, I think that chemobrain can be either prevented, minimized or even healed.
If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer but have not yet had any treatment, consider a sort of “prehabilitation.” In addition to getting in shape to undergo the rigors of surgery, chemo and or radiation, consider supplementation discussed below, that may reduce your risk of chemo brain.
If you have recently undergone one or more of the chemotherapy regimens listed in the article below, as being toxic to oligodendrocytes, by beginning a sort of chemobrain healing lifestyle through brain games and exercise and nutritional supplementation, you may be able to reduce the damage done to your brain by chemotherapy.
I supplement with vit. D3, Omega-3’s, I have signed up with Posit Science to send me brain games each day and I exercise daily-I exercise modestly but frequently. I wouldn’t say that chemobrain has healed completely but my brain functions a LOT better today in 2019 than it did in 1999.
If you are like me, you underwent aggressive chemotherapy years ago and you have been living with a variety of chemobrain symptoms (mm side effects) for years. At this stage all I can do is offer my own experience in hopes of healing your brain damage as best you can.
The bad news is that your body has undergone lots of toxicity and sustained a great deal of organ damage (all MM side effects).
The good news is that the therapies shown to heal your brain function also may heal other organs. For examply vitamin D supplementation has also been shown to enhance bone health. Further, we’ve established that brain games and exercise help not only chemobrain but can help to reduce your risk of dementia a well as other chronic diseases.
After almost 25 years living with an “incurable cancer” as well as a living with a host of long-term and late stage MM side effects I’ve made peace with the idea that MM patients and survivors may need to undergo toxic chemotherapy regimens- all that can cause real damage.
However having read this post, you may come to the conclusion that toxic regimens must be minimized. Further, coupling less toxicity with lifestyle therapies such as nutritional supplementation, you may be able to minimize the damage done to your body by the very toxic therapies that are designed to cure your cancer.
Have you been diagnosed with MM? What stage? Are you considering chemotherapy? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.
“Common drugs used to treat cancer may be more harmful to healthy brain cells than the cancer cells that they are intended to destroy. That is the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center and published today in the Journal of Biology. The results, which also indicate that chemotherapy may cause long-term brain damage, represent the closest that scientists have come to pinpointing the underlying physiological cause of “chemo brain,” a common side effect of cancer treatment that scientists are only now beginning to comprehend
Cancer patients who receive chemotherapy have long complained of adverse neurological side effects ranging from memory loss to, in extreme cases, seizures, vision loss and even dementia. Until very recently, these conditions were often dismissed as unrelated to the cancer treatment and rather the result of the patient’s mental state. However, a growing body of evidence has documented the scope and cognitive impact of chemo brain. A study earlier this year conducted by the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochestersuggested that upwards of 82% of cancer patients reported that they suffer from some form of cognitive impairment…
As in other organs and systems in the body, the central nervous system is populated with several types of cells that serve the function of producing or repairing the cells needed for normal function. These cells fall into three general categories: dividing stem cells, dividing intermediate cells types called precursors and progenitors, and non-dividing mature cells.
Noble and his team exposed several different populations of healthy brain cells as well as multiple human cancer cell lines to clinically relevant levels of three commonly used chemotherapy drugs – carmustine, cisplatin, and cytosine arabinoside. These drugs are used to treat a wide range of cancers, including certain types of breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas, and, in the case of carmustine, brain tumors...
Notably, these drugs were toxic to both non-dividing cells and dividing stem cells, precursors, and progenitors even at very low concentrations. Destruction of dividing cells was not altogether unexpected, as that is what these drugs are designed to target. However, the loss of dividing cells has onerous consequences as these populations are responsible for replenishing the other cell types in the central nervous system…
Noble also points to the destruction of a specific cell type that plays a critical supporting role in the central nervous system. These cells, called oligodendrocytes, are responsible for producing myelin, the fatty substance that, like insulation wrapped around a wire, covers nearly all the large nerve cells processes – called axons – in our bodies and helps signals in the nervous system move crisply and rapidly from one point to another.
“Myelin membranes are very dynamic and are always being turned over and renewed. However, if you kill the oligodendrocyte cell then myelin membrane eventually disintegrates…”
Because everything in the nervous system is based upon precise timing of information transfer, this destruction of the insulation necessary in normal impulse transmission has significant neurological ramifications…
Noble and his team are quick to point out that no one should avoid cancer treatment because of these results and that chemotherapy will remain a cornerstone of cancer therapy for the foreseeable future. Instead, they believe that the opportunity for the scientific community is to use this knowledge to develop ways to protect the brain’s cells from these drugs…”
“Low vitamin D levels have been linked to the onset of multiple sclerosis, and the researchers’ findings suggest that the vitamin might also affect disease progression by controlling myelin sheath regeneration, a critical step to alleviate the disease’s symptoms that fails as patients age…”
“These results point to the regenerative and possibly protective properties of a combined EPA and DHA oral administration after peripheral nerve injury, as well as its anti-neuroinflammatory activity, evidencing ω-3 PUFAs promising therapeutic outcomes for NP treatment…”