A “normal” diet no longer consists of whole, natural foods that were intended for everyday human consumption, but has come to mean the intake of any number of processed, genetically modified, steroid- and hormone-enhanced foods. The massive health deficit caused by poor diet is evident, so would it be surprising to find that fasting may be a highly effective way to combat cancer?
A study published in Science Translational Medicine found that five out of eight cancer types in mice responded to fasting alone: Just as with chemotherapy, fasting slowed the growth and spread of tumors. Cycles of fasting combined with chemotherapy cured 20 percent of mice with a highly aggressive type of children’s cancer that had spread and 40 percent of mice with a more limited spread of the same cancer. No mice survived in either case if treated only with chemotherapy.
While the researchers do not know for sure if the results can be replicated in humans, they are optimistic.
The research indicates that fasting killed the cancer cells because in the absence of certain nutrients they don’t behave like normal healthy cells, which essentially hibernate until the nutrients return. The cancer cells attempt to make proteins by growing and dividing and, in doing so, create damaging free radical molecules that break down the cancer cells’ own DNA and cause their destruction.
“The cell is, in fact, committing cellular suicide. What we’re seeing is that the cancer cell tries to compensate for the lack of all these things missing in the blood after fasting. It may be trying to replace them, but it can’t,” said researcher Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California.