Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases in the world, with millions of people battling it every year. While conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation work for some people, and there are some that are interested in exploring alternative options as well as something to do alongside conventional treatment. Fasting for cancer is becoming more popular for good reason.
While new treatments are being developed, the search for natural and effective ways to prevent and combat cancer continues. Emerging research suggests that fasting can be an effective complementary treatment for cancer. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of fasting for cancer patients. Fasting, an age-old practice, has been known to have a positive effect on our overall health and could have a profound impact on cancer.
How Fasting Works
To understand how fasting can help combat cancer, we must understand some of the most fundamental mechanisms behind it. One of the significant ways fasting can help fight cancer is by limiting the availability of the nutrients cancer cells need to grow and multiply. And glucose is a big one!
Cancer cells are veracious in their need for energy to fuel their rapid growth. Without sustenance, these cells are starved. Fasting also promotes autophagy, the mechanism by which the body cleans out damaged cells, which can increase resistance to cancer and other chronic diseases.
What Does The Science Say?
In a study conducted by the University of Southern California, researchers found that fasting weakens cancer cells so that chemotherapy and other cancer-fighting strategies can work better. The study was conducted on mice bearing breast cancer cells. The researchers found that fasting cycles beforehand significantly enhanced chemotherapy’s effectiveness by making cancer cells more vulnerable to treatment .
Another study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine investigated how intermittent fasting (IF), a type of fasting that involves restricting eating to particular windows of time every day, could slow the development and progression of colorectal cancer. The study showed that the group of mice that followed the IF protocol had a significant reduction in the development of tumors when compared to the control group that didn’t fast .
Benefits of Fasting for Cancer
Let’s dive into the amazing health benefits of fasting for cancer!
Fasting Promotes Autophagy
One of the critical benefits of fasting for cancer patients is autophagy. This process helps to remove damaged and mutated cells that can become cancerous. Fasting triggers our bodies to start autophagy, which is a natural process that fights cancer cells. Autophagy helps to increase the body’s immunity, detoxification, and repair mechanisms, which are critical in cancer treatment.
Fasting Reduces Inflammation
Another critical benefit of fasting for cancer patients is inflammation reduction. Inflammation can cause severe damage to the body and also makes many diseases, including cancers, worse. All types of fasting helps to ramp up the body’s immune system while shutting down inflammation, which can help to curb the progression of cancerous cells.
Fasting Enhances Chemotherapy
Fasting has been shown to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy. Studies have shown that fasting can “sensitize” cancer cells to chemotherapy, providing better results in treatment. When combined with chemotherapy, fasting can promote apoptosis (self-destructive cell death) in cancer cells, which can help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Fasting Improves Metabolic Health
Fasting is excellent for improving metabolic health, particularly in cancer patients. Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy often experience metabolic abnormalities, including high blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and disrupted fat metabolism. Fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, helping to support cancer treatments.
Fasting Boosts Mental Health
Finally, fasting has numerous psychological benefits, which can be invaluable for cancer patients who are under constant emotional strain. Fasting can reduce anxiety and depression while boosting cognitive functions such as clarity, concentration, and focus.
For many, fasting may be a bridge too far, but focusing on a healthy lifestyle and diet is a step in the right direction. Instead of focusing on fasting, consider taking a step back and making small changes to everyday food consumption by making healthy choices that include fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
While research is continually advancing, it’s clear that our diet is one of the most powerful tools we have in our fight against cancer. By incorporating research-backed healthy strategies, we can all take steps towards living our healthiest lives.
All in all, fasting for cancer is still a relatively new concept (at least as far as Western medicine is concerned), but research has shown that it has numerous benefits for cancer patients. As with any medical treatment, consult with your doctor before trying fasting to treat cancer, as it may not be suitable for everyone.