(HealthDay News) — For adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), exercise intolerance is associated with worse neurocognitive outcomes, according to a study published online Oct. 21 in Cancer.

Nicholas S. Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., from St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues obtained cardiopulmonary exercise test results, results from a two-hour standardized neuropsychological assessment, and self-report questionnaires for 341 adult survivors of childhood ALL and 288 controls. The authors examined the correlations between oxygen uptake at 85 percent estimated heart rate (rpkVO2) and neurophysiological test and self-reported questionnaire domains.

The researchers found that survivors had worse rpkVO2 and performance on verbal intelligence, focused attention, verbal fluency, working memory, dominant/nondominant motor speed, visual-motor speed, memory span, and measures of reading and math than controls. In survivors, exercise intolerance correlated with reductions in performance of verbal ability, focused attention, verbal fluency, working memory, dominant and nondominant motor speed, visual-motor speed, memory span, and reading and math academics in adjusted models.

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“A well-designed randomized prospective study is needed to evaluate whether enhancing exercise tolerance would improve neurocognitive outcomes among childhood ALL survivors,” the authors write.

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