Fasting and differential chemotherapy protection in patients
Volume 9, Issue 22
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November 15, 2010
Pages 4474 - 4476http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.9.22.13954
Authors: Lizzia Raffaghello, Fernando Safdie, Giovanna Bianchi, Tanya Dorff, Luigi Fontana and Valter D. Longo View affiliations
Chronic calorie restriction has been known for decades to prevent or retard cancer growth, but its weight-loss effect and the potential problems associated with combining it with chemotherapy have prevented its clinical application. Based on the discovery in model organisms that short term starvation (STS or fasting) causes a rapid switch of cells to a protected mode, we described a fasting-based intervention that causes remarkable changes in the levels of glucose, IGF-I and many other proteins and molecules and is capable of protecting mammalian cells and mice from various toxins, including chemotherapy. Because oncogenes prevent the cellular switch to this stress resistance mode, starvation for 48 hours or longer protects normal yeast and mammalian cells and mice but not cancer cells from chemotherapy, an effect we termed Differential Stress Resistance (DSR). In a recent article, 10 patients who fasted in combination with chemotherapy, reported that fasting was not only feasible and safe but caused a reduction in a wide range of side effects accompanied by an apparently normal and possibly augmented chemotherapy efficacy. Together with the remarkable results observed in animals, these data provide preliminary evidence in support of the human application of this fundamental biogerontology finding, particularly for terminal patients receiving chemotherapy. Here we briefly discuss the basic, pre-clinical, and clinical studies on fasting and cancer therapy.