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NAC may help patients with "chemo-brain" according to preliminary evidence from an animal study

Sep 15, 2008

     About 70% of the patients who have undergone chemotherapy (drug treatment) to treat their cancer suffer with mental side effects that hurt their memory and attention span; this severe brain fog is often referred to as “chemo-brain”. In a newly published study researchers at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown looked at the powerful antioxidant NAC (or N-acetyl Cysteine) to see if it could prevent chemo-related memory damage testing for effect in laboratory animals.

     The researchers first exposed a group of rats to two powerful but problematic drugs commonly used to treat cancer, Adriamycin and Cytoxan. These drugs are very toxic to major organs including the brain and nerve tissue and they are also loaded with side effects. They found that compared with a group of control animals, the chemo-exposed rats showed a decline in standard tests of their rodent memory. Then the rats were exposed to the same two drugs four times a week and they were also supplemented with NAC via injection three times a week; amazingly the mental fog was completely prevented. The next step is to make sure the NAC does not interfere with the chemotherapeutic agents followed by human studies. The study is published in the September 2008 issue of the journal Metabolic Brain Disease.