- Question from BeckyM: Is there anything I can do to increase my memory? I forget words I have known for over 40 years when I am trying to have a conversation.
- Answers - Mindy Goldman, M.D. Many women may notice changes in concentration, memory recall, and memory in general after they've gone through menopause. There is certainly a lot of controversy over the role of estrogen in memory changes and brain function. There are also many complicating factors that can affect memory. Many women may not be sleeping well, partly because hot flashes are disturbing sleep and chronic lack of sleep affects mood, overall functioning memory, and concentration. Aside from hormone replacement therapy, which is controversial in its role in brain function and memory, there haven't been good-quality studies done that have looked at this. There are some herbal therapies that are thought to improve blood flow to the brain, but the data on these are very poor. Certainly, getting adequate rest and exercise and maintaining weight are all important in the menopausal years and may help to improve brain function.
- Charles Loprinzi This seems like a good time to comment upon chemotherapy-associated brain function. There is a phenomenon that has been labeled as "chemo brain" or "chemo fog." For a couple of decades, patients have been noting this as a problem. The exact nature of this problem is not known currently; however more is being learned as medical studies are being done to address this issue. Interesting things related to it include that patients' complaints of brain function do not match well with tests of brain function. Women who do very well on tests actually have complaints of less function. One of the things that has come up is that it appears that women have to use more brain function to solve the same problems that they used to solve with less brain function. This has been shown in sophisticated images of the brain as women are asked to perform some sort of brain function (like remembering things or doing a math function). We do not currently have good antidotes to recommend people take. Men have this problem too. :-)
On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Managing Menopausal Symptoms. Charles Loprinzi, M.D. and Mindy Goldman, M.D. answered your questions about how you can manage menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, and more.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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