Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fasting may improve chemo

There has been some pretty interesting research published on diet and cancer recently. My friend Andrew G sent this one.

Thanks. It it is all Andrew and not a word from me. The link at the end gives you access to a free PDF of the whole article to download.

Although this blog will always at its core be a personal cancer/transplant journey and is never intended to be a structured or comprehensive examination of therapies, I do want to share the occasional new finding that might help you on you on your way.

I thought this was worth sharing for sure. Free, save, and possible helpful, albeit in a very small trial.

Fasting may improve chemo

Fasting is prescribed in the Bible and is considered a path to physical and spiritual purity. There are books, articles and Web sites that advocate fasting, some of them even for cancer patients. But many oncologists understandably become alarmed when their patients suggest fasting. After all, cancer is a disease sometimes characterized by unintended weight loss (cachexia). Doctors may feel that fasting will only worsen the situation. But what is the actual science of fasting and its relationship to cancer treatment?
Recently Dr. Valter D. Longo, Fernando M. Safdie and colleagues at the University of Southern California (USC) Andrus Gerontology Center and Department of Biological Sciences, have shown that a 48-hour fast protects normal cells and mice, but not cancer cells, against high-dose chemotherapy.

They also described 10 patients who voluntarily fasted prior to and/or following chemotherapy. None of these reported side effects caused by fasting other than lightheadedness and, of course, hunger. However, most patients reported less fatigue, weakness or gastrointestinal side effects from chemotherapy if they also fasted before and/or after receiving the drugs.

Nor did fasting decrease the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. These USC scientists therefore suggest that fasting, in combination with chemo, is “feasible, safe, and has the potential to ameliorate side effects.” They also recommend consulting one’s physician before undertaking a fast, and I totally agree. There are certainly individuals with cancer who should not fast. But fasting should be feasible for other patients, is cost-free and, at least in this preliminary report, effective at reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.


Ralph Moss, PhD


Blogger Tom said...

I had read both the 10 patient study and the rat studies and felt it had some merit. I just finished my 4th cycle of FCR all while fasting.

I start my fast after dinner on Sunday, have my first treatment on Tuesday and introduce some food back around lunch time on Friday. This gives me about 36 hrs before treatment and 24 hours after.

Since I have never had treatment without, I can't be certain how I would react without. While fasting, my only side effect is a little exhaustion. It is usually worse the first day, but I think that is because of the benadryl and steroid. When I start food back, I usually get a mild stomach ache for about 2 days. I think these are chemo related.

Personally I think the fasting has helped quite a bit, but it is very possible that I would have had the same reaction to chemo without fasting.

Thought I would give one CLLers experience with this approach. I will continue to do it for the last 2 cycles.


October 17, 2010 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Barry B. said...

It was easy to fast when in my flavopiridol trial. Since I always threw up, why eat anything that you will later get back on the way up? I am not as motivated as Tom. I only fasted for 36 hours or so. So I don't think it made any difference to me. But it can't hurt!

October 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My reading of research about true water only fasting has uncovered that fasting causes the body to deplete immune cells as well as of course fat cells.

(I am talking about fasting in people who have body fat. Fasting without body fat is starvation and will delete important muscle tissue like your heart and may kill you).

I am not talking about juice fasting or any other form of calorie intake. I mean true fasting with only water and electrolytes being taken.

Supposedly what happens is after about 3 or 4 days your immune cells have been killed off.

but when you begin to eat again your immune system is rebuilt from stem cells completely fresh with none of the pre existing error stricken immune cells surviving.

So when I see research saying fasting has helped chemo kill bad immune cells but protected good cells from chemo I wonder if what we are REALLY seeing is fasting killing off the bad immune cells regardless of the chemo.

You haven't double blind tested for that.

It reminds me of the faulty recent study disproving monkeys living longer when fed less. Both set of monkeys lived the same and no one could understand the result --- until someone realized BOTH sets of monkeys had been given such a restricted diet that both were on a very low calorie diet so both had lived longer than monkeys who weren't!

I wonder if there is a similar mistake happening in chemo studies which include fasting.


September 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM  

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