Can there actually be something good about having cancer? New research published in JAMA Network Open suggests that older people who have cancer have better memories than those who do not have cancer. The study was led by Monica Ospina-Romero, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco.
Ospina-Romero and her colleagues looked at the long-term memory of patients who developed cancer and compared these patients with healthy individuals of the same ages.
Analyzing data for 14,583 U.S. adults born before 1949 with no cancer history, the team determined that of the total group, 2,250 participants had a cancer diagnosis. “In this population-based cohort study of 14,583 individuals, those with an incident cancer had a modestly higher memory function and slower memory decline both before and after their diagnosis than similarly aged individuals who remained cancer free for a mean 11.5-year follow-up,” write the authors.
What does that mean exactly? The researchers think that there could be an association between cancer and long-term memory, and they hope to continue their research in order to investigate their hypothesis more.
"These novel findings support the possibility of a common pathologic process working in opposite directions in cancer and Alzheimer disease," the authors write. "Identification of a potential association between carcinogenesis and neurodegeneration may open a new avenue in research for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer disease."