Breast cancer-associated fatigue linked to nervous system
Apr 27, 2011
A new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology shows that fatigue related to breast cancer may be due to an imbalance in patients' nervous systems.
Scientists looked at 109 women with breast cancer and found that for some, the "fight-or-flight" response linked to the stress hormone, norepinephrine, caused an imbalance in the "resting" responses of the nervous system. Thus, patients were constantly battling between "fight-or-flight" and "resting" and feeling very tired.
"We're not sure if the fatigue is stress-induced. But certainly cancer is an extremely stressful life event. So those stressors might be contributing to those autonomic system changes," said Christopher Fagundes, a study author.
The study was funded in part by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and U.S. National Institutes of Health.
According to the ACS, more than 200,000 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer last year in America. Yearly mammograms for those over the age of 40 can detect cancer at their earliest onset and prevent metastasis.