Fasting boosts the immune system and aids cancer treatments

Fasting boosts the immune system and aids cancer treatments


Scientists at the University of Southern California led by Dr. Walter Longo have shown that fasting for as little as 3 days seems capable of regenerating the immune system.



During any period of fasting the team showed that, while white cells depleted with the weak ones ‘dying first’, higher stem cell activity occurred and when feeding started again, these stem cells were converted into new strong white cells.



Obviously, the longer the fast lasts, the longer the period with a depleted white cell count. There is also some indication longer term of occasional liver problems, depending upon the patient’s background.



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Dr. Longo and his team also showed that 3-day fasts could protect cancer patients against the toxic side-effects of drugs.  Co-author Tanya Dorff, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at UCS Norris Cancer Center said that ‘Fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy’.



Dr Longo said that he had monitored a large amount of correspondence from cancer patients who used short-term fasts when undertaking chemotherapy, that oncologists in America were often overseeing such dual treatments, and that there was absolutely no evidence of any detrimental effects.






This research was also covered by the Daily Telegraph in the UK who asked two UK oncologists for their views. Both found this ‘improbable’ one suggesting the effects would be better created through drugs!



But. In 2012 the British journal ‘The Oncologist’ wrote an editorial on the early trial data from research in America that Calorie Restriction improved the success of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Calorie restriction is where subjects consume 15 per cent less calories than they need.



Fasting has long been used as a start point in Ayurvedic treatment of cancer. Fasting is known to go hand in hand with negligible blood sugar, insulin and IGF-1 levels. The body turns to burning fats in the absence of carbohydrate – this is called ketosis. However, only healthy cells have this flexibility; cancer cells do not – glucose is essential to their growth. Thus cancer growth and cancer progression are virtually non-existent during a fast. Certainly, Cancer Watch has covered previous research where fasting stopped cancer progression.



Clinical trials on that project are going ahead in America – unfortunately they could not find enough candidates who were prepared to fast during their chemotherapy or Radiotherapy, and so researchers have prepared a food (KetoCal) that is high in fat, low in carbs, and modest in protein for the trial. Such a food or diet, is the basis of the Ketogenic Diet.



The new research also adds credibility to why fasting seems to help people beat illnesses – ‘Feed a cold – starve a fever’, might not be such an old fashioned saying after all.



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