Fasting in general seems to have a wide variety of health benefits that can range anywhere from mental health to immune function. But how about cancer? Some early research points that fasting for cancer patients can be beneficial. Some people even believe that fasting alone is its own cancer treatment. Others believe that even in combination with other treatments, cancer fasting is too risky and can result in dangerous weight loss. Leaving all opinions and theories at the door, we will now let the facts speak for themselves.
Cancer Fasting Vs Calorie Restriction.
First, lets make sure you know the difference between fasting and calorie restriction. These two terms get mistaken for each other all the time. Calorie restriction is the RESTRICTION of calories in your diet. Less calories = calorie restriction. Fasting is the temporary elimination of all calories from your diet. No calories = fasting. A 30% calorie restriction can be implemented for a long period of time, where as, fasting cannot. Fasting can only be performed for shorts periods or intermittently. Knowing the difference between the two will help you understand the research behind both methods.
Cancer Fasting Before Chemotherapy.
Multiple studies and case reports do show that fasting before, during, and after chemotherapy might be beneficial. A human study in 2015 showed breast cancer patients that fasted had higher erythrocyte and thrombocyte counts 7 days post chemotherapy than non-fasting cancer patients. Fasting was done 24 hrs before and after chemotherapy. Also a case series report in 2009 showed a total of 10 cancer patients had less severe side effects when fasting compared to other times they received chemotherapy. All this research points to fasting having a positive effect on chemotherapy side effects. However, no research has shown if cancer fasting can increase the direct anti-cancer effect chemotherapy has on cancer cells, or if fasting itself can help inhibit cancer growth.
Cancer Fasting Side Effects.
Short term fasting has shown to be both safe and well tolerated in all human studies so far. Severe weight loss has not been an issue like many had first suggested. No negative effects have been directly associated to fasting other then minor weight loss that is very similar to that of chemotherapy.
Cancer Fasting Alone.
A good amount of research points that fasting might improve the bodies ability to fight cancer. However, no human studies have been performed to test cancer fasting alone. Until a human clinical trial tests the anti-cancer abilities of cancer fasting, we have no idea if it will provide any benefit what so ever. Even when fasting was tested in combination with chemotherapy, no improved anti-cancer response was mentioned. Therefore, the lack of data clearly makes cancer fasting alone very dangerous and highly speculative. No data is available at this time to base any type of expectations from this type of treatment in humans.