Low-calorie diet cycles help fight tumors

A cyclically repeated 5-day hypoglycemic diet regimen has positive effects on cancer patients

It is not a cure. And it must not be done independently, without medical supervision. Without these necessary clarifications, the diet that contributes to lowering blood sugar because it is linked to severe cyclic caloric restriction can prove to be a help for those who face cancer.

Or rather: this treatment, in addition to having positive biological effects demonstrated in the laboratory, is safe and also well tolerated by patients. Provided – and let’s go back to the starting point – that the approach is always carried out under medical supervision. These messages are launched by the conclusions of a research that involved scientists from the IRCCS National Cancer Institute (INT) Foundation in collaboration with the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (IFOM) and with the financial support of the AIRC Foundation. The study was published in Cancer Discovery.

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How important is lowering blood sugar

Filippo de Braud, Director of the Department of Oncology and Hematology at INT and Full Professor at the University of Milan, who promoted the research, explains that “the results of this clinical study are particularly encouraging for the future development of this experimental strategy because demonstrate that the hypoglycemic diet is safe, feasible and associated with weight regain in the majority of treated cancer patients. Furthermore, the fact that the hypoglycemic diet is able to reduce blood levels of glucose and growth factors in a similar way to that observed in experiments with laboratory animals constitutes the biological prerequisite for the experimentation of this therapeutic approach in patients suffering from different forms of tumor”.

“The most relevant result of this study – explains Claudio Vernieri, Medical Oncologist at the IRCCS National Cancer Institute Foundation and director of the experimental program of” Metabolic Reprogramming of Solid Tumors “at IFOM – consists in the discovery that a specific hypoglycemic diet scheme of 5 days, followed cyclically (every 3-4 weeks), was well tolerated by 101 cancer patients. Furthermore, following this diet, some cells of the immune system were activated in the patients, which play an important role in recognizing and killing cancer cells “.

Calorie restriction is obtained with foods of vegetable origin, such as vegetables, wholemeal bread, extra virgin olive oil, fresh and dried fruit in limited and pre-established quantities. The patients involved were suffering from different types of neoplasms including breast, colon and lung cancers.

The effect of cyclic fasting on the immune system

This research adds a piece to the knowledge on the subject, which is growing progressively. Studies conducted in recent years, at the IFOM laboratories and other institutes, have shown how cyclic fasting, or different hypoglycemic diets, are able to enhance the anticancer effects of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

These effects are attributable to the reduction in the blood concentration of glucose and growth factors that stimulate the multiplication of cancer cells, such as insulin and insulin-like growth factor. The results of the experiments conducted in the laboratory were very promising and now, with the study conducted by the National Cancer Institute (INT), the real applicability of fasting and hypoglycemic diets in clinical oncological practice has been preliminarily demonstrated, without side effects even in subjects. fragile like cancer patients.

With a positive aspect that should not be underestimated: this dietary approach would have an action on the immune system. Indeed, it emerges that the hypoglycemic diet increases the presence in the blood of ‘good’ immune cells such as cytotoxic T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells, which are potentially able to recognize and kill cancer cells. At the same time, the diet appears to reduce ‘bad’ immune cells which increase systemic inflammation and prevent ‘good’ ones from functioning properly. In short, the way seems the right one.

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