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Fasting Enhances Breast Cancer Chemotherapy, QOL

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“…periodic fasting or fasting-mimicking diet techniques (short-term fasting) could become a tool in the arsenal to fight a variety of cancers.”

At the outset, I must state that this blog post is NOT about an alternative therapy called Insulin Potentiation Therapy or IPT. This post is specifically about short-term fasting (STF) in conjuction with chemotherapy, specifically for breast cancer.

A little discussed but critical aspect of chemotherapy is the miserable side effects it can cause. The studies linked and excerpted below cite STF as a possible therapy to improve quality of life during chemotherapy treatments.

Otto Warburg famously proved that cancer requires glucose (sugar) to grow and spread. This is called the “Warburg Effect.”  The Warburg effect is why many people advise their friends with cancer to stop eating anything with sugar. I understand this thinking and as a long-term cancer survivor I myself have cut way back on consuming processed sugar. But anyone who reads food labels knows that sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc.) is in just about every thing we eat.

Further, I eat fruit and veggies daily. With every meal. Fruits and veggies contain glucose. So I am ingesting glucose with every meal.  The articles linked and excerpted below may build on the Warburg effect in theory but the concept of fasting improving chemotherapy efficacy is more than “sugar feeds cancer.

Cancer chemotherapy causes short, long-term and late stage side effects. Everyone knows this. If the collateral damage caused by chemotherapy can be eliminated or even reduced, cancer patients would benefit greatly.

Short-term fasting is an integrative/complimentary therapy the way that exercise, nutrition, supplementation, etc. are. I believe (and rely on) both conventional and evidence-based non-conventional therapies to manage cancer.

Have you been diagnosed with breast cancer? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Can Fasting Improve Chemotherapy’s Effects?

“Despite being in the best shape of her life and still riding high on the success of her world-record swim, the otherwise extraordinarily healthy athlete who had no known risk factors for the disease was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Although devastated by the news, Thomas didn’t waste any time before diving into dealing with the challenge of cancer – just like she would the challenge of an ultra-marathon swim. She read everything she could find on triple-negative cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease, and asked a lot of questions.

When a friend pointed her toward research into the possible therapeutic effects of fasting in combination with chemotherapy to treat cancer, she was intrigued. Additional research turned up several studies suggesting that fasting before chemo might alleviate common side effects like nausea and vomiting. There’s also a growing body of research into whether fasting could have a beneficial effect against the cancer itself. (Ketogenic diets are also being investigated for similar effects on cancer cells.)…

Having noted cancer cells’ proclivity for glucose, Warburg hypothesized that removing the source of the fuel might help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells. “The cancer cells are usually dependent on much more glucose than [normal cells], [so] by decreasing the glucose [present in the body] you can generate problems” for the cancer cells…

Nevertheless, Longo says the research so far has been encouraging that periodic fasting or fasting-mimicking diet techniques could become a tool in the arsenal to fight a variety of cancers. “The mouse studies are very clear, starting in my lab, and multiple labs confirm it, that fasting or at least fasting-mimicking diets increase the protection against the chemotherapy and at the same time they may kill off the cancer cells….”

... “I always say, ‘there’s excellent preclinical data that shows maybe fasting can have some benefits in improving tolerance to chemotherapy and reducing side effects, but that the data we have in humans is very limited….”

The effects of short-term fasting on quality of life and tolerance to chemotherapy in patients with breast and ovarian cancer: a randomized cross-over pilot study

“Discussion- This is the first clinical study to explore the effects of STF on QOL, fatigue and wellbeing during chemotherapy. Experimentally, STF has been documented to induce profound changes in gene expression and cellular metabolism that render normal cells more resistant to oxidative stress and thus may confer benefit in the situation of cancer treatment by chemotherapy []…

Our results confirm the feasibility and tolerability of STF accompanying chemotherapy and extend on these findings by indicating a potential beneficial effect on QOL, fatigue and well-being during cancer treatment. As QOL is an increasingly appreciated treatment outcome the present results appear to be of clinical relevance…”

Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report

“Short-term fasting (48 hours) was shown to be effective in protecting normal cells and mice but not cancer cells against high dose chemotherapy, termed Differential Stress Resistance (DSR), but the feasibility and effect of fasting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy is unknown…

None of these patients, who received an average of 4 cycles of various chemotherapy drugs in combination with fasting, reported significant side effects caused by the fasting itself other than hunger and lightheadedness…

The six patients who underwent chemotherapy with or without fasting reported a reduction in fatigue, weakness, and gastrointestinal side effects while fasting. In those patients whose cancer progression could be assessed, fasting did not prevent the chemotherapy-induced reduction of tumor volume or tumor markers.

Although the 10 cases presented here suggest that fasting in combination with chemotherapy is feasible, safe, and has the potential to ameliorate side effects caused by chemotherapies, they are not meant to establish practice guidelines for patients undergoing chemotherapy.”




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