Fasting-mimicking diets: Could they help treat cancer?

A recent study investigated the safety, tolerability, and metabolic- and immune-related effects of fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs) in participants with cancer.

The results demonstrated that metabolic and immune changes were consistent with improved cancer outcomes, but they did not prove effectiveness.

More research is necessary to determine whether FMD-induced metabolic and immune effects improve the efficacy of standard cancer treatment and reduce mortality.

Changes in the types and amount of food a person eats can have positive effects on health and aging. Some evidence suggests that prolonged fasting may activateTrusted Source protective cellular mechanisms.

Scientists believe that these effects are partially due to temporary reductions in glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a hormone that regulates growth, controls skeletal muscle metabolism, and rebuilds muscles in the human body.

As IGF-1 regulates cell growth and division, cell death, and cell survival, it may also promote the growth of cancerous tumors.

Preliminary studiesTrusted Source with periodic cycles of prolonged fasting demonstrated antitumor effects, enhanced response to anticancer therapy, and protection of healthy cells from chemotherapy-induced damage.

However, complying with prolonged fasting and severe calorie restrictions may be challenging and have safety issues.

With this in mind, scientists have developed a “fasting-mimicking diet (FMD),” which is low in calories, sugars, and protein. The aim is to achieve effects similar to those that animal studies have shown to occur through fasting while preventing nutrient deficiencies.