Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Jet Lag and Some Chemotherapy Side Effects May Share Treatments

WebMD Health News

June 9, 2000 (Atlanta) -- Breast cancer victims and airline passengers may have something in common. The phenomena that cause the rundown feeling common to air travelers, who jet across time zones, may also trigger the fatigue -- and depression -- most chemotherapy patients feel.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Cancer Center in New York believe both may be caused by a disruption of the internal body clock known as circadian rhythm. The researchers presented their findings at the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting here this week.

Circadian rhythm is described as the regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day. Circadian is actually Latin for "around a day." Most circadian rhythms are controlled by the body's biological "clock." It's thought that chemotherapy may disrupt this natural body rhythm.

Lead researcher Gary Morrow, MS, PhD, says that in a recent study of more than 1,000 women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer, 80% experienced more than a normal amount of fatigue, and some 30% reported suffering from depression. "It's a definite problem that challenges the quality of their life," Morrow, a clinical psychologist, tells WebMD. "It challenges their ability to fulfill their various roles as friends, neighbors, lovers, and parents."

In their study, the researchers looked at the circadian rhythms of 78 patients one week after they received their second or later chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. Depression and fatigue were evaluated. Each patients' circadian measurement was taken over a three-day period using a device that measures levels of sleep and activity based on the participants' amount of motion.

The researchers found that higher circadian scores -- meaning a more consistent day-to-day pattern of rest and activity -- related to less fatigue and lower depression levels. Also, patients who showed the greatest circadian disruption -- the most irregular patterns of sleep and activity -- reported the most fatigue and depression.

Morrow says the research is preliminary. "It may allow us to try some things that have been useful for jet lag and other circadian disturbances." For example, he hopes such things as light therapy and the supplement melatonin will be studied in the future.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow