For the 3,000 Americans per year who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the weeks and months after their diagnosis are filled with questions and fears about what the future holds. While many of them will undergo surgery and other treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, many people dealing with mesothelioma may want to consider other lifestyle changes that could help make them more comfortable or even make them stronger as they battle mesothelioma.
Among the most popular ways of helping the body as it deals with cancer is changing diets. Some people swear by ketogenic diets for cancer patients, while others say paleolithic eating plans are the way to go.
What does the available science tell us about how effective fasting is in helping those with mesothelioma?
Fasting & Mesothelioma
An analysis of available scientific literature on fasting, surgical stress and chemotherapy found a big benefit in fasting as part of a study of mice with mesothelioma (Ageing Research Reviews). Researchers indicated that keeping cancer cells from having adequate nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids, makes them more susceptible to cancer treatments.
A study of mesothelioma in mice showed that chemotherapy combined with periodic fasting reduced the progression of mesothelioma by more than 60% compared to subjects that did not combine chemo and fasting.
Effective treatment is particularly crucial with cancers like mesothelioma that have very low survival rates. In fact, only about 10% of all malignant mesothelioma patients survive for five years past their diagnosis, and methods for super-charging treatments could bring those numbers up.
Fasting & Other Cancers
A meta-analysis published in 2019 set out to see if there was a connection between short-term fasting and positive outcomes from cancer treatment (Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research). Researchers determined that evidence exists from animal studies that short-term fasting, or consuming dramatically less calories for a period of time ranging from a day to a few days, bolsters healthy cells and causes cancer cells to become more sensitive to treatments.
Studies part of the analysis included mice with breast cancer, melanoma, brain cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer and dogs with lymphoma; all animals studied were undergoing treatment that included chemotherapy, radiation and inhibitors. Benefits from short-term fasting that ranged from 24 to 60 hours included lower death rates, increased efficacy from treatment and reduced spread of cancerous cells.
Permanent Calorie Reduction
If short-term fasting seems extreme, it could seem a logical conclusion to reduce calorie intake less dramatically but for a longer period. In other words, rather than cutting calories by 60% for one or two days, what about reducing calories by 10% for a period of six days?
Studies indicate that chronic calorie reduction would be counterproductive, for two big reasons: One, it requires a longer period of time by design, which more or less defeats the purpose of trying to make chemotherapy more effective. In other words, it just gives the cancer more time to spread. The second reason is that habitual calorie reduction would likely cause the individual to lose too much weight, making them weaker instead of stronger.
Health Benefits of Fasting
Understanding the mechanics and chemical reactions that occur during short-term fasting can help illustrate why it may be beneficial for cancer patients, including those diagnosed with mesothelioma. Here’s a look at the relevant health benefits:
- Cellular repair: When the body fasts, cells undergo several processes that essentially serve a cleaning and repair function and make the cells more efficient.
- Decreased inflammation: Studies have indicated that fasting reduces the presence of cells that create inflammation in the body.
- Boosting insulin sensitivity: Fasting is a common way for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes to lower their blood sugar, and many studies have connected diabetes with poor outcomes for cancer patients.
But it’s important to understand that any healthy diet will be focused on balance. Fasting, particularly in the beginning, requires a major adjustment for the body as well as the mind. Not only are many people’s lives built around meals, but hunger can lead to side effects like headaches and weakness, issues that are already major concerns for people undergoing treatment for cancer.
Also, remember that fasting isn’t starvation. For mesothelioma patients who are interested in how their diet can help improve their prognosis, it’s crucial they consult with their doctor, who can help them pinpoint the rate of calorie reduction that would be beneficial to them.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help Now
Mesothelioma is a notoriously deadly cancer, and up to 80% of the people who have been diagnosed with it were exposed to a harmful substance, asbestos. This mineral is considered highly carcinogenic, and a trust fund has been established to help those who were exposed to it and later became sick. In some cases, it may be possible to seek financial compensation from the Asbestos Trust Funds without filing a lawsuit. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 to find out how to receive compensation.