Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Chemo, Radiotherapy and Fasting

A while back I wrote about some work by Valter Longo and his colleagues looking at the effects of short-term fasting on cancer progression (here: http://www.anticancer.org.uk/2012/02/fasting-and-chemotherapy.html). They showed that short term fasting can slow tumour progression in a range of different cancer types and can sensitise tumours to standard chemotherapy drugs. While this work was performed in mice, it was solid research that is already being followed up in a number of clinical trials.

In the latest update to their work, Dr Longo and his team report that short term fasting also helps to sensitise cells to radiotherapy. This time the work looked at gliomas - aggressive brain cancers - again in mice. This time they looked at how the standard treatments for gliomas, including glioblastoma multiforme, were improved by the adoption of short term fasting. Both chemotherapy (Temozolomide) and radiotherapy had improved responses in those mice subject to complete withdrawal of food for short periods (48 hours) compared to control groups.

These results are in mice, but again there is no reason why they should not apply to people. Though whether there is the same degree of response is an open question which can only be answered through clinical trials.

For the moment this is yet another small step forward and confirms once again that cancer is more than a disease of delinquent cells, and that disordered metabolism is a key feature with clinical significance.

For those wanting the full details of this new research, it has been published in the open access journal PLOS One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0044603

The final word has to be this. If you're a cancer patient and want to try this out for yourself, make sure you talk to your oncology team to ensure you get the support you need.

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