Brain cancer is a very serious form of cancer. Recently, Sen. John McCain revealed he has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive type of brain tumor. GBMs originate in the brain; it does not spread there from another part of the body. The cause is not known. This tumor has no relation to melanoma, the skin cancer for which McCain was treated in the past.



Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for cancer. It kills healthy cells along with cancer cells, inflicting damage on the body and seriously compromising the immune system. Chemotherapy also kills most rapidly dividing healthy and cancer cells, but not all the cells are fast growing. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small population of cancer cells that are slow growing and thus resistant to treatment, do not die. Chemotherapy makes these cells even more numerous as the ratio of highly malignant cells….



For many women facing cancer, the most devastating aspect is learning they may lose their hair due to chemotherapy.  “Most women tell me that as soon as they hear the oncologist say, ‘You’re going to lose your hair,’ that’s the last thing they remember hearing,” said Eric Johnson, co-owner, with his wife, Jeletta, of Hair Institute in Lexington. “They can deal with the sickness; they can deal with the treatments; but it’s the hair loss that gets them the most.


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moderate-intensity exercise a week made a difference in measured memory function If the guideline recommendation of a total of 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity seems unachievable, start with a few minutes a day and increase the amount of exercise by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach the recommended goal. If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, pickleball or dancing. Don’t forget household activities, such as intense gardening, raking leaves or anything that gets the heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat, count as well.

Some individuals say they just can’t get started. If you are one of them, give these options serious consideration:

•  Join a fitness center.

•  Work out with a buddy who can help get you into the routine.

•  Consider using an app or wearable tracking device like a FitBit to measure your progress.

If you still have difficulty getting started on your own, consider hiring a certified personal trainer who can provide guidance, support and accountability in both the type and pace of your exercise program plan. Whatever exercise and options you choose, commit yourself to establishing exercise as a habit and regular daily routine. Exercise is very good medicine for both physical and brain health.

Sources and Resources:

Smith, J.C., Nielson, K.A., Antuono, P., et al. Semantic memory functional MRI and cognitive function after exercise intervention in mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. June 26, 2013; 37(1):197-215. doi: 10.3233/JAD130467

Researchers at the University of Maryland have found adults with mild cognitive impairment improved their brain function by adding exercise for brain fitness. Dr. Carson Smith, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, said, “We found that after 12 weeks of being on a moderate exercise program, study participants improved their neural efficiency.”

Physical exercise recommendations for adults call for 150 minutes of exercise spread out over a week. Activity should cause perspiration and raise the heart rate. For this study, two groups of physically inactive adults were selected. One group was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and were therefore at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The other group had no measured cognitive impairment. Both groups engaged in moderately intense treadmill walking that was supervised by a personal trainer for 12 weeks.

Both before and after the intervention, researchers used functional MRIs to measure brain activation. Brain scans taken after the 12-week exercise intervention showed enhanced neural efficiency in several areas of the brain typically affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the study’s subjects improved their cardiovascular fitness by about 10 percent, providing physical benefit.


Physical exercise is a trigger for thinking and memory functions through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation and to stimulate the release of growth factors, including chemicals that affect the health of brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.

Several research studies have suggested certain regions of the brain that control thinking and memory are vulnerable to cognitive impairment. With inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle, these brain areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. These areas include the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex. With physical inactivity, adults tend to experience some cognitive impairment realized as memory loss.

While clinician researchers are not sure which type of exercise is best, almost all of the research studies have found walking to be beneficial for memory gain. The results indicate there was measurable memory improvement with regular exercise. When study participants walked briskly for one hour twice a week, significant improvement in memory function occurred. That 120 minutes of


Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller