Two important studies showed that reduced calories activates the immune system and increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
The majority of drugs used in chemotherapy are very powerful cytotoxins that can kill cells by preventing them from multiplying. Several observations made in recent years, however, indicate that this cytotoxic measure is often not sufficient to eliminate all tumor cells: to be truly effective in the long term, chemotherapy must also restore anticancer immunosurveillance by By activating blood cells. , specializes in eliminating foreign bodies.
For example, studies show that by killing cancer cells, some chemotherapy drugs (anthracyclines, oxaliplatin) cause a chain of events that will result in the production of signals capable of activating the immune response. This phenomenon, called “immune cell death”, can be compared in some way to a vaccine, in which dying cancer cells provoke a strong immune response and allow the complete elimination of the remaining cancer cells.
Calorie restriction activates immunity
Very encouraging preliminary results indicate that the efficacy of chemotherapy can be greatly improved by significantly reducing caloric intake. For example, in mice with human tumors, fasting for 48 hours increases survival, with nearly half of the animals surviving 180 days after treatment ended while all normally fed animals died.
Two recent primary studies by teams of French and American scientists suggest that this positive effect of calorie restriction is due to increased anti-cancer activity in the immune system. For example, a diet developed in the laboratory of Dr. Walter Longo, which mimics the positive effects of fasting on the body, has been observed to improve the response of mice with breast tumors and melanomas to chemotherapy by causing a marked increase in killer lymphocytes. Along the same lines, injections of substances that mimic the effects of fasting on metabolism led to a decrease in regulatory T lymphocytes (a class of white blood cells that reduce the anti-cancer immune response), which improved lymphocyte activity. lethal and resulted in a marked reduction in tumor burden.
Eating well means eating less
Dr. Longo’s team is working with several hospitals to determine whether caloric restriction improves a patient’s response to chemotherapy treatments, and we should know soon if these results obtained in animals can be applied to humans. In the meantime, it is interesting to note that studies show that fasting of up to 72 hours is well tolerated by patients, and appears to be associated with a significant reduction in the side effects of chemotherapy. These observations are not surprising given that our metabolism has evolved to function to its fullest extent under conditions of food scarcity. Moreover, most of the chronic diseases currently afflicting the population, including a large number of cancers, are a direct result of excessive food consumption. Eating well can simply mean eating less.
Lee Si et al. Cycles of fasting delay the growth of tumors and sensitize a range of types of cancer cells to chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2012; 4: 124ra27.
De Biasi S et al. Diet with fasting reduces HO-1 to increased T-cell-mediated tumor cell toxicity. cancer cell 2016; 30: 136-46.
Petrokola P et al. Caloric restriction mimetics enhance anticancer immune surveillance. cancer cell 2016; 30: 147-60.
Dorff TB et al. Safety and feasibility of fasting with platinum chemotherapy. BMC Cancer 2016; 16: 360.
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