The study is one of the first long-term assessments linking chronic inflammation to cognitive decline in breast cancer survivors.Scientists are still trying to understand why many breast cancer survivors experience troubling cognitive problems for years after treatment.A new long-term study of older breast cancer survivors published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and co-led by UCLA researchers adds important evidence to that potential link.Higher levels of an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein (CRP) were related to older breast cancer survivors reporting cognitive problems in the new study.
Our study suggests this common test for inflammation might also be an indicator of risk for cognitive problems reported by breast cancer survivors,” said study lead author Judith Carroll, an associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and faculty member of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. .The study, called the Thinking and Living with Cancer (TLC) Study, is one of the first long-term efforts to examine the potential link between chronic inflammation and cognition in breast cancer survivors 60 and older, who make up a majority of the nearly 4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.Previous research has focused largely on younger women and women immediately after therapy, making it difficult to draw conclusions about CRP’s role in long-term cognitive problems among older breast cancer survivors. .In TLC, teams of researchers from around the country talked to, and obtained blood samples from, hundreds of breast cancer survivors and women without cancer up to 6 times over the course of 5 years.
The study was motivated by hearing from survivors and advocates that cognitive problems are one of their major worries. .The study found higher CRP levels among survivors were predictive of lower reported cognitive function among breast cancer survivors.The authors said their study supports the need for research on whether interventions that can lower inflammation – including increased physical activity, better sleep, and anti-inflammatory medications – may prevent or reduce cognitive concerns in older breast cancer survivors. .
“Elevated C-Reactive Protein and Subsequent Patient-Reported Cognitive Problems in Older Breast Cancer Survivors: The Thinking and Living With Cancer Study” by Judith Carroll et al.Elevated C-Reactive Protein and Subsequent Patient-Reported Cognitive Problems in Older Breast Cancer Survivors: The Thinking and Living With Cancer Study.To examine longitudinal relationships between levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and cognition in older breast cancer survivors and noncancer controlsEnglish-speaking women age ≥ 60 years, newly diagnosed with primary breast cancer (stage 0-III), and frequency-matched controls were enrolled from September 2010 to March 2020; women with dementia, neurologic disorders, and other cancers were excludedLongitudinal relationships between CRP and cognition in older breast cancer survivors suggest that chronic inflammation may play a role in development of cognitive problems
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