One of the side effects that some people face during and after chemotherapy (and cancer treatment even without chemotherapy) is called “chemo fog”. Heck AnneMarie Ciccarella used it as a witty title for her blog Chemobrain .. In the Fog.
Turns out that brain fog is also a side effect that some celiacs get when they eat gluten. There are other chemotherapy side effects that also overlap – the other one that is of particular interest to me is peripheral neuropathy. But anyways, let’s get back to brain fog.
During chemo, I watched a presentation on chemo brain given by Living Beyond Breast Cancer. So, I though it was interesting to read an article about gluten brain fog from the Celiac Disease Foundation. What has struck me is that post cases listed cytokines as a possible reason for the fog. The chemo brain presentation did a good job of explaining it – it suggested that similar to when you have the flu, your body releases lots of cytokines that could be the cause of the fogginess. Chemotherapy or other cancer treatments could cause an increase in cytokine activity. In those with celiac disease, gluten could cause an over production. In both cases, this can lead to a sense of a foggy brain.
For me this is just one more reason to completely cut gluten out of my diet. I am still in the ‘detox’ phase from the endoscopy. I am, however, finding that my brain is doing pretty good most of the time. I’m not in the fog that I was in when I was taking tamoxifen, which is also good.
I am intrigued by the overlap between chemotherapy side effects and untreated celiac side effects. I wonder if there is any association between chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and untreated celiac disease? I wonder if my brain fog an neuropathy during my taxol chemo treatments might have been reduced had I known about the celiac and been observing a gluten free diet? Unfortunately, we cannot set back the calendar and try again. We will likely never know. Oh well.