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The Fasting-Mimicking Diet during Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 20 June 2021
The Fasting-Mimicking Diet during Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Extensive preclinical evidence suggests that short-term fasting and fasting mimicking diets (FMDs) can protect healthy cells against the perils of a wide variety of stressors, including chemotherapy, simultaneously rendering cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and other therapies

Essentially, fasting causes a switch in healthy cells from a proliferative state towards a maintenance and repair state.

Malignant cells, in contrast, seem to be unable to enter this protective state because of oncoprotein activity, and therefore fail to adapt to nutrient scarce conditions. Instead, fasting deprives proliferating cancer cells of nutrients, growth and other factors, which renders them more sensitive to cancer therapy and increases cell death

The phenomenon by which normal but not cancer cells become protected to toxins is termed differential stress resistance (DSR)2,3 whereas the specific sensitization of cancer cells to stress is called Differential Stress Sensitization (DSS)


Lee, C. et al. Fasting cycles retard growth of tumors and sensitize a range of cancer cell types to chemotherapy. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 124ra127 (2012).

Di Biase, S. & Longo, V. D. Fasting-induced differential stress sensitization in cancer treatment. Mol. Cell Oncol. 3, e1117701 (2016).

Raffaghello, L. et al. Starvation-dependent differential stress resistance protects normal but not cancer cells against high-dose chemotherapy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 82158220 (2008).

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsPrevention & RecoveryBreast Cancerchemotherapy


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia