The Relationship between Fasting and Chemotherapy Outcomes

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What is Chemotherapy?

Various therapeutic methods are used to treat cancer. They include surgery, radiotherapy, laser treatment and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a regimen of drugs used to fight against the cancerous cells. Neoplastic cells are rapidly proliferating cells. The drugs included in chemotherapy are capable of identifying these rapidly proliferating cells and destroying them.

Factors Affecting Chemotherapy Outcome

There are several factors that affect the outcome of chemotherapy. These factors include the behavior of the cancer as well as the health status of the patient. If the cancer is a high stage one, the chemotherapy outcome might not be very positive. The type of the cancer also decides the outcome of chemotherapy. Some cancers respond to chemotherapy quickly and some show resistance. As mentioned above, the patient’s health status also affects the outcome of chemotherapy. If the patient is very weak, he/she might not be able to tolerate the treatment.

How Fasting Affects Chemotherapy Outcomes

According to Press TV, a report has been published in the Science Translational Medicine regarding the connection between fasting and chemotherapy. Valter Longo, the leader of the research group, has said that chemotherapy combined with cycles of fasting is much more effective than chemotherapy alone.

Fasting helps in fighting against cancer in two ways.

1) By protecting normal cells

In the fasting state the normal cells become dormant. The absorption of the drug is directly proportionate to the activity of the cells. Therefore, these dormant cells do not absorb the drugs. So, the effect on normal cells is minimal.  

2) By slowing the growth and spread of the cancer cells

They have noted that the cancerous cells do not go in to a dormant state during fasting. They work harder to absorb as much as possible during fasting.  Therefore, they absorb more drugs which kill them in the end.

The study was carried out in mice. Therefore, more studies should be carried out to find a way to apply these findings to humans. It is said that some of the investigations are already being carried out.

Further studies regarding the new finding are essential due to several reasons. Most of the patients with cancer are already wasted and weak. Therefore, it is a challenge to keep the patient fasting while not making him/her more nutritionally deprived. Other co-morbidities like diabetes can also put the patient in danger if he/she stays fasting.

As described above, chemotherapy combined with short cycles of fasting gives better outcome than chemotherapy alone.  

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