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Encore - Fasting makes cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy

Paul Edwards

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The Reluctant Brothers in their American teleconference recently discussed the work of Dr Valter Longo regarding fasting and chemotherapy. This discussion was prompted by papers published in July 2016 in the journals Cancer Cell and BMC Cancer by Dr Longo's team.


In 2014 we posted about Dr Longo's work :


Since 2008 Dr. Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology and biological science at the University of Southern California has been investigating whether fasting reduces some of the side effects of chemotherapy.


“Fasting makes things worse for the cancer, when assisted by chemotherapy. It’s the combination of the two treatments which produces the effect. Most people can last for up to 40 days with just water. Normal cells know how to cope with starvation. Cancer cells don’t. They evolved away from starvation.” ABC Science Show 21 April 2012



A transcript of the Science Show’s interview with Dr Longo is available at http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/chemotherapy-and-fasting-to-treat-cancer/3963102#transcript  or  http://tinyurl.com/jvlxl86



A more technical explanation of why fasting renders cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy can be found in a bulletin from the US National Cancer Institute Bulletin of 10 July 2012.  This bulletin can be viewed at http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/071012/page5  or http://tinyurl.com/lo28pbf



At the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual General Meeting Dr Longo and colleagues presented the results of a Phase 1 trial which concluded that “Fasting for up to 72 hours around chemotherapy was safe and feasible for cancer pts and resulted in significant decline in insulin and IGF1 levels.”   The abstract is available at http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/114231-132 or http://tinyurl.com/lo28pbf


Recently Dr Longo and his colleagues have published the results of further research in the 5 July 2014 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell which showed that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protected against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induced immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.


Co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital said:


“The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.   More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”


More information about this most recent research is available at https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/ or http://tinyurl.com/klqrvxl


The Mayo Clinic is currently conducting a clinical trial “Short-Term Fasting Before Chemotherapy in Treating Patients With Cancer”: see http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01175837


Click here to read about the recent studies reported in the journals Cancer Cell and BMC Cancer.


Warning: You should not attempt fasting during chemotherapy without first discussing this with your medical oncologist.


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