Fasting shrinks tumors in cancer

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Study: Fasting shrinks tumors in cancer

Fasting for a short time before starting chemotherapy leads to shrinking of cancer tumors and reduced metastasis. This was the result of a study that has now appeared in the journal "Science Translational Medicine". The international team of researchers found this out in experiments with mice and also revealed that people tolerated chemotherapy much better if they fasted beforehand.

Fasting increases the chances of recovery
Using a series of experiments with mice, the scientists found that the treatment was much better tolerated if the animals received no food but plenty of drinking water two to three days earlier.

The study infected mice with eight different types of cancer. Some of the animals received chemotherapy and normal food. The remaining mice were not fed for 48 to 60 hours. Some of them then received chemotherapy and the other part was not treated.

The combination of fasting and chemotherapy was found to be the most effective. In this test group, on the one hand, more animals were healed, and on the other hand, the cancer tumors shrank by more than half after several cycles. Compared to the group of mice who received chemotherapy without fasting beforehand, the metastases had been reduced by 40 percent, the scientists said. Study leader Valter Longo from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles reports: "The combination of fasting with chemotherapy was, without exception, much more effective than chemotherapy alone." This applies to a wide variety of cancers, including ovarian cancer, human breast cancer and brain tumors.

Fasting chemotherapy was even shown to be an effective combination against the particularly aggressive neuroblastoma. This dangerous cancer occurs in children. A total of 20 percent of the mice infected with it were cured by the combined therapy. All animals that received chemotherapy without fasting only died.

Fasting alone without subsequent chemotherapy has also shown success in five out of eight types of cancer. The researchers report that this effect must now be investigated in human clinical studies. If it turns out that fasting is also effective in humans in this context, this could significantly improve the previous standard therapies for cancer. Preliminary studies with patients had shown that they tolerated chemotherapy better and lost little weight if they did not eat two days before and one after treatment.

Fasting Destroys Cancer Cells Itself Researchers discovered that fasting weakens tumors. The mechanism that leads to this is overactivity of the cancer cells. While normal cells fell into an “energy-saving mode” when there was a lack of nutrients, this resting state in tumor cells was prevented by the cancer genes. The cancer cells would become even more active by trying to form and divide new proteins. This activity would have triggered a chain reaction that would ultimately result in cell-damaging molecules and destroy the cancer cells' DNA. "The cancer cell ultimately commits suicide," Longo explains.

Changing lifestyle habits can prevent cancer A healthy diet and lifestyle could help prevent cancer. Scientists led by Max Parkin from the Center for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary University in London found this out. When evaluating numerous epidemiological studies, they came to the conclusion that an unhealthy lifestyle, which includes high-fat food, alcohol consumption, smoking and pronounced sunbathing, play an essential role in the development of numerous cancers. A changed, healthier lifestyle could significantly reduce the risk of cancer. For numerous cancers, the researchers also blame pollutants in the workplace, which are also avoidable. According to a report in the British Journal of Cancer Research, the researchers believe that almost half, 43 percent of cancer in the UK is an unhealthy lifestyle and could have been avoided. (ag)

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Image: Rüdiger (Roger) Uwe Eichler /

Author and source information

Video: Starving cancer away. Sophia Lunt. TEDxMSU

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