Metabolism

Intermittent Fasting May Protect Against Cancer, Metabolic Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted on 14 April 2020

Intermittent fasting from dawn to sunset could be protective against multiple diseases including cancer, according to research published in the Journal of Proteomics.

In the study, subjects fasted for 14+ hours a day with no reduction in their calorie intake, over a period of 30 days. This was associated with an increase in certain key proteins in the blood, including regulatory proteins associated with DNA repair, the immune system, metabolism and cognitive function. Overall, the pattern of upregulated proteins suggests that intermittent fasting could be protective against cancer and metabolic syndrome, as well as multiple cognitive diseases.

This effect was achieved without any calorie restriction or weight loss. Similar to previous studies, this suggests that the effects of fasting are due to the extended absence of food itself, rather than a reduction in overall food intake.

It’s worth noting that effects similar to those observed in this study can be achieved by just 2-5 days of complete fasting. After food intake stops, it takes 10-12 hours for the physiological effects of fasting to kick in, meaning that a person fasting for 14 hours a day may only get a few hours of benefit before refeeding. However, for many people, intermittent fasting is far easier to achieve and maintain than total fasting.

The authors suggest that intermittent fasting could be used as part of prevention and therapy strategies for cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and some neuropsychiatric diseases. Many have previously argued the case for fasting as a means to enhance cancer treatment, however this topic has been controversial due to the danger of weight loss associated with chemotherapy. However, since benefits were achieved without weight loss in this study, intermittent fasting might provide a safer opportunity to boost cancer therapy.


References

Intermittent fasting from dawn to sunset for 30 consecutive days is associated with anticancer proteomic signature and upregulates key regulatory proteins of glucose and lipid metabolism, circadian clock, DNA repair, cytoskeleton remodeling, immune system and cognitive function in healthy subjects: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2020.103645

Prolonged Fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression: doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.014

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