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Chemotherapy's Long-Term Effects Can Last a Decade or More

Another reason among many to do all you can to avoid cancer: The damage chemotherapy can do on your body -- especially to your brain -- can last a decade, if not longer, after treatment.

Using positron emission tomography (PET), UCLA researchers comparedthe brain scans of 21 female patients who had undergone surgery withinthe previous decade to remove breast tumors against those of 13 healthypatients while performing short-term memory exercises and afterward. Ofthat group of breast cancer patients, 16 had been treated prior totheir surgeries with chemotherapy.

The PET scans among breast cancer patients who had chemotherapyshowed a lower metabolism in a key region of the brain's frontalcortex. The lower rate of a patient's resting metabolism was,scientists said, the more difficulty she would have performing memorytests. Scientists also noticed jumps in blood flow to the cerebellumand frontal cortex, a sign the brains of women who had chemo workedharder to perform normally than did healthy patients.

What's more, chemotherapy patients who also underwent hormonaltherapy also experienced an 8 percent drop in the resting metabolism inanother area of their brain (the basal ganglia).

The best thing you can do to avoid cancer, now the leading killer of Americans, and obscenely expensive drugs that will likely do you more harm than good: Follow my major recommendations that are far more comprehensive than those suggested by the American Cancer Society.

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment September 29, 2006

Science Blog October 5, 2006

Yahoo News October 5, 2006

USA Today October 5, 2006

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