Fatigue Associated with Cancer can Last for Years After Treatment

Up to 33% of Breast Cancer Survivors Have Reported Fatigue Persisting Following Treatment


Amount the most common complaints of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, malaise, diarrhea and headaches. These adverse effects are thought to be due to damage of normal tissues during the course of therapy. There have been a great number of studies related to the side effects of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation that have shown fatigue to affect anywhere from 25 to 99% to patients undergoing treatment. Fatigue can manifest as a lack of energy, disturbances in sleep and mood and a decrease in cognitive function. In majority of studies 30 to 60% of cancer patients report symptoms of moderate to severe fatigue while undergoing treatment. A recent study conducted specifically on breast cancer patients reported that 26% of patients experienced a type of fatigue during treatment.


Fatigue can seriously disrupt the patients’ quality of life and may persist for years following treatment. A recent study conducted on 218 breast cancer patients showed 33% reported chronic fatigue after cancer treatment using radiation and/or chemotherapy. Fatigue levels of study participants did decrease overtime to 11% after 6 months and 6% after 1 year, unfortunately many cancer survivors experiencing fatigue are significantly affected by it. Chronic fatigue is described as debilitating fatigue that cannot be lessened by rest and can be worsened physical and mental activity. Symptoms of this intractable fatigue include; “weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, and insomnia, which can result in reduced participation in daily activities.


Fatigue is caused when the cells in our body are broken down to a point where they can no longer manufacture and transport adequate energy levels for the body’s everyday processes. Cells are broken down by free radicals that attack the lipids comprising cell and mitochondrial membranes. These lipids maintain the structure of the cell and its ability to transfer energy created in the mitochondria to the rest of the body, the lipids in the mitochondrial membrane protect the process of energy creation within the mitochondria. Free radicals are created as byproducts of many of the body’s natural processes; the body also has naturally occurring antioxidants that can neutralize normal levels of free radicals and prevent cell damage. However, when the body is under stress from any number of toxins like smoke, illness, disease, chemical fumes and medical treatment, excess free radicals are crated and the lipids are now exposed to oxidative stress. The reduction in mitochondrial function and the loss of efficiency in the electron transport chain caused by membrane oxidation affect cancer patients undergoing cytotoxic therapy.


There may be many underlying causes to the fatigue associated with cancer and its treatment, but its causes can be negated and the damage repaired through supplementation and a positive lifestyle. Taking part in physical activity has shown to enhance the body’s natural ability to detoxify its cells. Exercise increases the process of autophagy, the cells ability to create specialized organelles that absorb harmful byproducts and convert them into fuel for the mitochondria. The process of Lipid Replacement Therapy is intended to repair and reverse the degradation of our cells caused by oxidative stress. LRT using supplementation has shown to repair cell damage by replacing broken down membranes lipids with glycophospholipids in its formula. LRT formulas has been shown to reduce fatigue by up to 40% and reduce side effects associated with medical treatment and fatigue causing diseases.


LRT formulas have also been studied as a supplement to cancer therapies administered during treatment. A study conducted by Colodny, et al[i]  showed the advantages of using supplements during the treatment of colon, pancreatic and rectal cancers. Quality of life indicators of the patients were monitored by research nurses throughout course of treatment; it was determined that patients on LRT supplementation experienced fewer episodes of fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, skin changes and insomnia. In the open label part of the trial 81% of patients demonstrated an overall improvement in quality of life parameters while on chemotherapy. In the double-blinded, cross-over, placebo-controlled, randomized part of the study on these advanced cancers the patients on LRT supplementation showed improvements in the signs and symptoms associated with chemotherapy, including relief from; fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, impaired taste, constipation and insomnia. 57 to 70% of patients that were initially on the placebo reported rapid improvements in relief from nausea, impaired taste, tiredness and an increase in appetite once they were administered LRT Formulations.



[i] Colodny L, Lynch K, Farber C, Papish S, et al: J Am Nutraceut Assoc 2:17-25, 2000.