The Breast Cancer – Dementia Connection: How Your Cancer May Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
I’d have to say it was the breast cancer that started my mother’s dementia. Oh, it wasn’t the breast cancer itself, but the treatment. She had been fine, just a little sickly and losing weight before the diagnosis, but the aggressive treatment, the chemotherapy, the radiation, the back and forth to the doctors… it was too much for her.
And although she’s been free of cancer for the past ten years, we noticed right away she forgot things. At first, it was just little things, like forgetting to turn off the downstairs light. But we started to get worried when she left the stove on. And then it got worse… and worse.
Unfortunately, that’s a widespread story. Cancer takes a significant toll on the body, especially breast cancer. Women are faced with a horrible choice of losing a part of their body that defines them as a woman or succumbing to cancer.
And cancer treatment is both aggressive and brutal.
The effects on your mind can be worse.
Forgetfulness After Cancer – Why Is My Brain So Scattered?
The unchecked growth of cancer within your body changes everything. Cancer will often rewrite how your body processes nutrients, manages blood flow, and rearranges your hormones.
The phenomenally fast growth of those cancers produces a series of hormones that rewrites the body’s instructions for growing blood vessels and increase blood flow to the cancer cells.
Those cancer cells also produce hormones that make you desire food, especially sugary foods, which can throw off your insulin levels. And once that starts to happen, other changes occur in the brain
The fact of the matter is that a lot of dementia and Alzheimer’s are linked to sugar consumption – Alzheimer’s and been called type 3 diabetes. And as cancer grows in your body, you want more sugar, and those sugars damage your brain.
But, that’s not all the changes. It can also adjust the serotonin levels and dopamine in the brain, giving you a propensity towards depression. It can also drop the levels of acetylcholine, making you feel lethargic, forgetful, and weak.
As acetylcholine levels go down in the brain, the chances of damage to your brain because of sugar and chemotherapy drugs goes up.
Many of the systematic chemotherapy drugs get into the brain, causing havoc with memories. They can adjust your hormones’ levels and throw off the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in your brain.
One of the most common side effects of all chemotherapy drugs is long term forgetfulness.
Combating Cancer And Dementia – Three Steps To Stay Healthy
The best cure is prevention, keeping away from chemicals and pollutants, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and getting enough exercise is vital to keeping your body healthy. A healthy body can more successfully fight off cancer, and these steps keep your brain healthy. Let’s take a look at a couple of other healthy habits.
You could probably use more sleep. Even if you think you’re getting enough, you probably need more. An unfortunate reality of our time is most people are sleep deprived regularly.
That’s incredibly damaging to your brain. During sleep, your brain switches from an active learning mode to a passive remembering mode. All the memories you created during the day get filtered through your brain and begin moving into long-term storage. This happens during restful sleep, not tossing and turning or exhausted rest.
Proper and healthy sleep helps your body produce acetylcholine and nitric oxide appropriately. These two brain chemicals help memory formation, the speed of memory recall, and your ability to learn. Nitric oxide as a vasodilator helps bring more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain and acts as an antioxidant to protect against damaging free radicals.
And, a good night’s sleep also helps reduce the levels of cortisol in the brain and body. Cortisol is a stimulating hormone designed to keep us safe from danger. But, long-term exposure to cortisol breaks down memories, suppresses your hormones, and damages your immune system. High levels of cortisol make it more likely that your body develops cancer – and dementia.
What protects the brain? Fats.
Here’s the thing:
The low-fat craze over the past 40 years has led to most people being fat deficient. Without these fats, the brain cannot repair the damage done from free radicals, lack of sleep, and cortisol. The protective myelin sheath gets eaten away, and it can’t be fixed.
The best types of fats are omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, meats, and fatty fruits and vegetables. Replacing bread and pasta with fats can help you both lose weight and protect your brain.
Establishing The Right Habits
Eating right and exercising are essential daily habits that allow you to keep your body healthy and active. Fruits and vegetables are filled with nutrients and antioxidants. And exercise keeps your blood flowing and waste removed.
It gives you a routine to base your life around, which can be incredibly important during the stressful times of cancer or dementia.
Breast cancer is devastating, and a person can feel the repercussions many years after it takes place. The chemotherapy drugs can be devastating to the body and the brain. Keeping your body healthy can help ward off many of the problems from both breast cancer and dementia.