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Intermittent Fasting and Cancer Treatments

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 23 April 2021
Intermittent Fasting and Cancer Treatments

Cancer cells do not respond to the protective signals generated by fasting, leaving them vulnerable to both the immune system and cancer treatment.
Evidence-based research inclusive of randomised control trials and several other reports suggest that using a low-caloric (fast mimicking) diet for 2-5 days around chemotherapy was associated with greater tolerance to chemotherapy, resulting with less fatigue, weakness, and less gastro-intestinal issues. Fasting was well tolerated and reduced haematological toxicity with faster recovery of DNA damage in peripheral blood after chemotherapy. Most importantly, the low-caloric (fast mimicking) diet significantly reduced chemotherapy-induced DNA damage in T-lymphocytes. Weight loss was rapidly recovered with no evidence of malnutrition.
Breast cancer survivors who fasted for least 13 hours overnight had a 36% reduction in the risk of recurrence and were 21% less likely to experience breast cancer related mortality. Fasting to prevent chemotherapy-induced tumour shrinkage.
The randomised control trial found that a 90-100% tumour-cell loss was more likely to occur in patients using the caloric controlled (fast mimicking) diet. It increases resistance to chemotherapy in normal but not cancer cells and promote regeneration in normal tissues, which could help prevent detrimental and potentially life-threatening side effects of cancer treatments.
Controlling caloric intake for up to five days may reduce side effects from treatment, without causing chronic weight loss or interfering with the therapeutic effect of treatment. It may even enhance the effects of chemotherapy.
Ravussin E, Redman LM, Rochon J, Das SK, Fontana L, Kraus WE, et al. A 2-year randomized controlled trial of human caloric restriction: feasibility and effects on predictors of health span and longevity. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015;70(9):10971104. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv057.
De Lorenzo MS, Baljinnyam E, Vatner DE, Abarzua P, Vatner SF, Rabson AB. Caloric restriction reduces growth of mammary tumors and metastases. Carcinogenesis. 2011;32(9):13811387. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr107.

Author: Manuela Boyle
Tags: News Evidence Based Research Most Popular Cancer Breast Cancer foods & cancer treatment


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australasian Integrative Medicine Association
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • British Naturopathic Association

Disclaimer: Manuela Boyle is not a registered medical practitioner or specialist medical oncologist. Manuela Boyle is a general health service provider who is not legally required to be registered under National Health Practitioner regulation law. She practises under the national Code of Conduct that sets standards to general health service providers who are not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Manuela Boyle is an accredited member of the following professional organisations:
NHAA (Naturopaths & Herbalists Association of Australia), SIO (Society of Integrative Oncology) USA, AIMA (Australasian Integrative Medical Association), IFM (Institute of Functional Medicine) USA