What is “Brain Fog” and why does it happen?

HEIDI NICHOLS | MAY 22 2018

“Brain Fog” is one of the terms given to an array of neurocognitive deficits which are often reported by cancer patients and survivors following cancer chemotherapy and/or other cancer treatments. Cognitive dysfunction can include the loss of ability to remember certain things, learn new skills, or complete certain tasks.

Cognitive changes are real – not imagined – and can cause problems in everyday life, such as short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, losing train of thought mid-sentence, mixing-up metaphors, or making up words. It is important to differentiate “brain fog” from reduced brain function caused by sleep deprivation, fatigue, and worry, which can occur even BEFORE chemotherapy or other treatments for cancer begin.

The causes of cognitive impairment are not entirely clear; many factors combine to produce symptoms. Possible factors or contributors are: 1) the cancer itself, particularly cancers of the brain, 2) cancer treatments, 3) complications of cancer treatment, 4) emotional reactions to cancer diagnoses and treatment (stress is a medical condition which can affect brain  physiology).

Please join us to gain a deeper understanding of this condition and learn how to better manage it – there are many tips and tools available. Seating is limited, so take this opportunity to connect to others who are also facing this syndrome by registering for our free workshop here. 

“By becoming an active participant in your fight for recovery, along with your healthcare team, you’ll have a better quality of life.”                                                                                                     Michael Sieverts (10-year cancer survivor and patient advocate).

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Sugar: An Essential Macronutrient

Blueberries in a blue cupSUSIE YOUNG, R.D. | JULY 3 2015

“Does sugar feed cancer cells?” This is the most common question cancer patients ask me, my colleagues, and my peers. Sugar or glucose is an essential macronutrient and is the main energy source for every cell in our body. The brain, central nervous system, red blood cells, and muscle tissue depend on glucose to function properly. Despite all of the benefits of glucose, it continues to receive an image of being “the bad guy.” As Andrew Weil, MD states in a recent article, “I think there is a tendency to demonize whole groups of foods and macronutrients, such as carbs, grains and sugar. I don’t think that is a good trend.” The human body can break down a protein or a fat into glucose if glycogen levels run low. So what is the best dietary approach cancer survivors can adopt? To return to a healthy eating pattern and reduce undue stress, consider following these five steps:

1. Eat fruits and vegetables. Avoiding fruit or limiting vegetables because of the sugar content misses the point of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and other cancer fighting compounds which is exactly what the body needs to fight off disease. This fear and restriction may increase stress, which in turn can increase blood sugar levels and decrease immunity.  Judith Payne, PhD RN, AOCN FAAN, from the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison published an article in the September 2014 Oncology Nursing Forum connecting stress and inflammation to cancer development and progression. Obsessing over the sugar content found in a potato or in an apple has the potential to increase glucose levels, increase inflammation, which in turn may increase the risk of some cancers. Read More

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