Standard Dietary recommendations during cancer treatment are based on the prevention or reversal of nutrient deficiencies to preserve lean body mass and minimize nutrition-related side effects, such as decreased appetite, nausea, taste changes, or bowel changes . Consequently, for cancer patients who have been weakened by prior chemotherapy cycles or are emaciated, many oncologists could consider a fasting-based strategy to be potentially harmful. Nevertheless studies in cell culture and animal models indicate that fasting may actually reduce chemotherapy side effects by selectively protecting normal cells . Following the publication of this pre-clinical work,several patients, diagnosed with a wide variety of cancers, elected to undertake fasting prior to chemotherapy and shared their experiences with us. In this heterogeneous group of men and women fasting was safely repeated in multiple cycles for up to 180 hours prior and/or following chemotherapy. Minor complaints that arose during fasting included dizziness, hunger, and headaches at a level that did not interfere with daily activities. Weight lost during fasting was rapidly recovered in most of the patients and did not lead to any detectable harm.
Ralph Moss, a wonderful writer, asks 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.
The full text of the study in the National Library of Medicine can be found here
Fasting May Improve Chemo « Cancer Advisor: Ralph Moss on Cancer News
Alex Comments: It appears a good case is being made for fasting before and after chemotherapy. It is definitely worth taking a close look into. As for my own chemotherapy treatments, I did not know this information and I approached chemo. with an"eat my way through it" mentality (which is how I approach lots of things that are anxiety producing). My chemo. If I had to do it all over again I would probably fast around my chemotherapy. Tell me your experience.