Current cancer treatment methods are notoriously hard on the body and mind, with side effects ranging from nausea to fatigue, depression, and impaired immune function.
But new research is shedding light on a much less taxing treatment method that might surprise you – fasting.
The study, published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell found that fasting cycles cause cells in the body to move into a state of self-renewal.
Researchers say the cycles “flipped a regenerative switch,” signalling stem cells to kick in and boost immune function as well as blood generation.
In addition to causing regeneration, the lifestyle change was also found to lower levels of IGF-1, a hormone that has long been linked to tumor progression and increased cancer risk.
Surprised something so simple could have such a drastic effect? So were researchers.
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said Valter Longo, corresponding author of the study.
How It Works
The study found that behind these positive effects is the shutting down of an enzyme called PKA. When this enzyme is shut down, it increases cell longevity.
“PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system. And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.”
Other Benefits of Fasting
As if fighting cancer wasn’t enough, fasting can also fight several other health conditions!
1. Fights Brain Disease
Researchers at The National Institute on Aging found that fasting twice per week significantly lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
The good stress fasting imposes on the brain prompts it to create new cells and grow neurons to become more resistant to the effects of the plaque that causes degenerative brain conditions.
2. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Researchers at the University of Southern California found that significantly reducing calorie intake for as little as five days per month significantly lowers one’s risk for developing heart disease.
3. Prevents Diabetes
As reported by The Daily Mail, fasting for 24 hours at a time can cut one’s risk of diabetes in half – or more.
Fasting triggers a surge in growth hormones, which speeds up the metabolism and helps burn off fat.