BEYOND YOUR DIAGNOSIS
Keeping your brain healthy and happy
It’s important to keep your brain in good shape. It’s your control centre – the source of everything you think, feel, and do – and it is critical to your overall wellbeing. When you are living with cancer, it can be easy for the idea of brain health to come second to physical health. But both are key. In fact, your brain and body are so tightly interlinked, that actions to benefit one will usually benefit the other.
Whether you’re here for yourself or someone else, it’s important to understand the effects that cancer and treatment can have on the brain and how this can impact day-to-day life. From the cognitive side effects of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to the emotional challenges of coping with prostate cancer, we’re here to help you take action and find new ways to live positively.
Your cognitive health is your capacity to think clearly, carry out complex tasks, learn and remember
We’ve all experienced the signs of ‘brain fog’. Some men who undergo androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) can see these cognitive symptoms become more regular.1 ADT has also been linked to a (marginal) increase in the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia2 – although the long-term benefits are generally considered to outweigh this risk. In addition, the cognitive side effects of ADT are only apparent in some men. Many people do not experience any changes at all.
A key pillar of your overall mental health, emotional health is all about your thoughts, mood and ability to cope
Learning you have prostate cancer and living positively with the reality of that diagnosis can be difficult. You might experience a whole range of emotions, including shock, uncertainty, anxiety, numbness and anger. It’s natural to feel this way, but over time these emotions can have a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Someone living with prostate cancer is unfortunately more likely to experience depression than someone who isn’t 12 – even more so if you’re undergoing ADT13. Prioritizing your mental health is therefore just as important as your physical wellbeing.
Did you know?
What’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Cardiovascular health is intimately linked with cognitive health,9–11 so activities which benefit your heart (like exercise and healthy eating), are a win-win.
Exercise your brain
The best way to protect your cognitive and emotional health is to keep your brain active. Any activities that engage your brain can help prevent cognitive decline during ADT. To keep your brain in peak shape, why not try:
- Catching up with friends or attending a social group – social activity is a great form of mental stimulation 3
- Activities such as crafts, puzzles, computer use and playing games, which are all great ways to keep your mind moving 1
- Improving both your cardiovascular health and brain health by incorporating physical activity into your daily routine 4–6 and nourishing yourself with a Mediterranean diet 7,8
Coping with prostate cancer
It’s essential to check in on your emotional wellbeing regularly, and to take note of when negative moods are starting to impact your quality of life. Your doctor will likely ask questions about your mental health, and it’s important to let them know if you’re struggling.
Understanding and discussing the cause of your distress can make it easier to find solutions and live positively with prostate cancer. Why not try:
- Talking to your family or friends about how you’re feeling – sharing your thoughts can be a relief for feelings of stress and anxiety
- Making sure you get a good night’s sleep and practice healthy sleep habits to help you wind down before going to bed (such as meditating or reading a book)
- Making healthy lifestyle changes. Simple steps like improving your nutrition or being active can help you to feel more in control of your health and relieve anxiety and depression 14
Information you can trust
With so many opinions out there, it can be hard to know who to follow. At Oncolifestyle we do our best to provide you with evidence-based information that has been carefully researched with your health in mind.
Where is this information coming from?
Where is this information coming from?
- Cherrier, M. M. & Higano, C. S. Impact of androgen deprivation therapy on mood, cognition, and risk for AD. Urol. Oncol. Semin. Orig. Investig. 38, 53–61 (2020).
- Jayadevappa, R. et al. Association Between Androgen Deprivation Therapy Use and Diagnosis of Dementia in Men With Prostate Cancer. JAMA Netw. Open 2, e196562 (2019).
- Elwood, P. et al. Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study. PLoS ONE 8, e81877 (2013).
- Chang, Y. K., Labban, J. D., Gapin, J. I. & Etnier, J. L. The effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance: A meta-analysis. Brain Res. 1453, 87–101 (2012).
- Northey, J. M., Cherbuin, N., Pumpa, K. L., Smee, D. J. & Rattray, B. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br. J. Sports Med. 52, 154–160 (2018).
- Fondell, E. et al. Physical activity across adulthood and subjective cognitive function in older men. Eur. J. Epidemiol. 33, 79–87 (2018).
- Klímová, B. & Vališ, M. Nutritional Interventions as Beneficial Strategies to Delay Cognitive Decline in Healthy Older Individuals. Nutrients 10, 905 (2018).
- Anastasiou, C. et al. Mediterranean Lifestyle in Relation to Cognitive Health: Results from the HELIAD Study. Nutrients 10, 1557 (2018).
- Song, R. et al. Association of cardiovascular risk burden with risk of dementia and brain pathologies: A population‐based cohort study. Alzheimers Dement. 17, 1914–1922 (2021).
- The SPRINT MIND Investigators for the SPRINT Research Group et al. Association of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control With Cerebral White Matter Lesions. JAMA 322, 524 (2019).
- Arvanitakis, Z. et al. Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology. Neurology 91, e517–e525 (2018).
- Fervaha, G. et al. Psychological morbidity associated with prostate cancer: Rates and predictors of depression in the RADICAL PC study. Can. Urol. Assoc. J. 15, (2020).
- Dinh, K. T. et al. Association of Androgen Deprivation Therapy With Depression in Localized Prostate Cancer. J. Clin. Oncol. 34, 1905–1912 (2016).
- Galvão, D. A. et al. Psychological distress in men with prostate cancer undertaking androgen deprivation therapy: modifying effects of exercise from a year-long randomized controlled trial. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 24, 758–766 (2021).