Is fasting beneficial to prevent cancer?
We are beginning to see a rise in the popularity of fasting, not only with those who observe it for religious purposes but also with people who are trying to lose weight and with athletes trying to increase their performance levels.
Recent studies have shown links between fasting and reduced cancer growths. Dr Jason Fung, chief of medicine at Scarborough General Hospital in Toronto Canada, recently appeared on Dave Asprey's podcast, where he discussed the links between fasting and cancer. He states that there is a direct correlation between obesity and cancer, especially liver cancer.
The link originates in type 2 diabetes, according to Dr Fung. Who says that having too much insulin increases the risk of cancer growth, and by addressing our diet, we can have a dramatic influence on potential future cancer.
This is quite a significant statement if we consider the usual cost of cancer treatments. The observations made by Dr Fung place the onus on the individual and hands over a certain amount of power and influence on the future of our health.
A study published by Alessio Nencioni in 2018 stated that between 14% and 20% of all cancer-related deaths in the USA stem from obesity, which is somewhere between 84000 and 119854 deaths per year.
Why fasting works to help, eliminate cancer
Cancer, much like any other living thing, requires nutrients to survive. So by depriving cancer of its food source for extended periods of times, stunts its growth significantly.
- Fasting decreases blood glucose reduction, which in turn reduces the chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
- People who fast will usually start to eat a balanced diet on their own in order to avoid feeling over hungry and sluggish.
- Fasting encourages stem cells to regenerate the immune system.
- Fasting also promotes the production of cancer-killing cells.
- During a fast, the cancerous cells receive an "anti-growth" order due to being starved of nutrients, which in turn makes them highly sensitive to chemotherapy and other treatments.
Recent testing on rodents has shown that fasting prior to receiving chemotherapy reduced metastasis and prolonged survival. Also, aside from chemotherapy treatments, rodents that were fasting saw a reduction in tumour growth overall.
Rodents that were fasting also saw a significant increase in cell regeneration time.
Keto diet and fasting
Fasting has its benefits when it comes to controlling the growth of cancer, but diet also plays a huge role. If you are committed to fasting 8-12 hours a day, but you're still consuming high sugar content foods, you’re not getting the full benefits from fasting.
The keto diet can significantly help reduce diabetes when combined with fasting. You may have already heard of the keto diet, but if you haven't, it is very similar to the 90's popular diet, the Atkins diet.
The diet is simple: reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates and increase your intake of fats and protein. This change in diet puts your body into a state called ketosis, wherein your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat.
By decreasing sugar intake, your blood sugar and insulin levels will drop, and when your body stops relying on sugar and glucose for energy, it will start to burn fat deposits.
Contrary to what we've heard for the past fifty years, consuming fatty foods is not bad for us if we monitor what we eat and how we eat it. Foods such as salmon, lean beef, avocados, coconut oil and cheese all contain what we might consider "good" fats and nutrients that are excellent for keto diets.
The keto diet or a similar low carb diet is something you should think about if you are considering fasting for health reasons. However, the keto diet requires discipline and not everyone, especially if they are dealing with cancer, can stick to it. Many people who have tried the diet, said that the first three to five days can be incredibly difficult, and requires intense amounts of will power to overcome the sugar cravings.
Recommendations and things to consider
The jury is not out on the links between fasting and cancer, but there are definitely positive signs. What can be said with some certainty is that fasting definitely won't increase your chances of getting cancer.
Even if you are not at high risk of getting cancer, but you are carrying a few extra pounds, it might be worth giving fasting a go. And while you're at it, cut out some of the sugary foods in your diet just for good measure.
If you can take away anything from this article, consider the fact that there are now ways you can minimise cancer without going to a doctor or taking drugs. All it really takes is some self-discipline and a certain level of self-sacrifice.
The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.
Consider this quote when you put down the biscuit tin and decide to drink a glass of water.
You are making the right decision for you and the rest of your life. To ignore the sugar cravings, you are taking back control and putting yourself on track for longer and healthier life.
Content copywriter with a passion for writing about mindfulness, tech and philosophy.