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The interruption of biological rhythms during chemotherapy worsen its side effects
Date:5/21/2014

Patients receiving chemical treatment for cancer often suffer fatigue and body weight loss, two of the most worrying effects of this therapy linked to the alteration of their circadian rhythms.

The circadian system, better known as our biological clock, is responsible for coordinating all the processes that take place in our organism.

If it does not function correctly, what is known as a circadian disruption or chronodisruption, has for years been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression, cognitive problems or cardiovascular diseases.

"Also, circadian disruption in cancer patients aggravates the prognosis of the disease and the chance of survival for these patients diminishes," Elisabet Ortiz Tudela, a researcher at the University of Murcia, told SINC.

The expert is the author of a study published in the 'International Journal of Cancer', which reveals the importance of assessing how the circadian system works in order to prevent chronodisruption and to implement measures to strengthen the biological clock in people whose system is damaged.

However, measuring how the biological clock works is not easy in humans given that the "machinery" is located within the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, deep within the brain.

"Therefore, it is impossible to directly assess how the clock Works," adds Ortiz. "Today, biological rhythms are studied which are clock "interruptions" and which enable us to indirectly assess the status of the circadian system".

One of the most studied "interruptions", which can be measured with non-invasive techniques and during long periods of time, is the activity-rest rhythm.

Chronotherapy for cancer

Researchers characterised the evolution of the circadian system in cancer patients submitted to a standard chronotherapy protocol (synchronisation of medication with natural rhythms). The activity-rest rhy
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