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Exercise may give the brain a boost

Memphis, Tennessee, October 21, 2019

Two scientific researchers, a woman and man, walk down the hall of a hospital and talk.

The journal Cancer features research led by Kirsten Ness, PhD, and Nicholas Phillips, MD, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control, showing a link between exercise and cognitive ability in cancer survivors.

Improving cancer survivors’ physical fitness may boost their thinking and learning skills. A St. Jude study reveals more about this link.

“Survivors are more likely to have limited ability to exercise,” said Kirsten Ness, PhD, of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “Physical activity can have a positive effect on cognitive ability.”

This work relied on the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort (St. Jude LIFE) study. The scientists tested 341 childhood leukemia survivors and 288 control subjects.

“Even minor changes like going from sitting to walking for 30 minutes can have an effect,” said Nicholas Phillips, MD, PhD, of Epidemiology and Cancer Control.

A report on this work appeared in the journal Cancer.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.