Food deprivation in the fight against cancer? This would seem to have an impact, at least in mice. It is too early to extend the conclusions of the study to man.

Short fasting periods would, in some cases, be as effective as chemotherapy in fighting against the development of cancer cells. This is shown by an American study conducted on laboratory mice, which has just been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. A similar effect on humans, however, have not yet been determined, although fasting and proper calorie allocation per meal, which is one of the hallmarks of some diet plans like that of Nutrisystem, have links to weight loss and management.

Effective in Mice

Eight types of cancer were observed in mice. Five responded to fasting, as well as chemotherapy. The explanation given by the researchers is that not eating would not “feed” the tumor, which would slow its growth and capacity to spread. Fasting could complement the action of chemotherapy and enhance its effectiveness. Researchers have noted that multiple periods of fasting in combination with chemotherapy cured 20% of some cases of very aggressive cancers in mice. The rate was 40% for mice with these cancer cases, whereas no mice survived among those treated only with chemotherapy.

Could a similar effect be had with regulated diet plans like those of Nutrisystem. People who have used Nutrisystem coupons have reported the same issue.

Human Application and Nutritional Impact Still Uncertain

One needs to be careful not to jump to conclusions about the possible application of these results in human medicine. The lead author of the study himself recognizes this: “We do not know if fasting is effective for humans and should conduct clinical trials for several years to find out.”

There is also the question of whether the sick can be adequately supported in their nutritional needs with physical starvation. Fasting is quite violent for the body and can cause voltage drops and headaches, even in a healthy person following a well-balanced diet program like that of Nutrisystem.

The result of a phase 1 clinical trial, done on patients with breast cancer, cancer of the urinary tract, and ovarian cancer, will be presented at the next annual conference of the American Society of Oncology (ASCO). This clinical trial will allow us to find out if cancer patients, even those on a program similar to Nutrisystem’s, are able to tolerate fasting for two days before a session of chemotherapy, and again the day after.