Aging – Fasting and Cancer Treatment in Humans: A Case series report

Abstract: Short‐term fasting (48 hours) was shown to be effective  in protecting normal cells and mice but not cancer cells against  high  dose  chemotherapy,  termed  Differential  Stress  Resistance  (DSR),  but  the  feasibility  and  effect  of  fasting  in cancer  patients  undergoing  chemotherapy  is  unknown.  Here  we   describe  10  cases  in  which  patients  diagnosed  with  a variety of malignancies had voluntarily fasted prior to (48‐140 ho urs) and/or following (5‐56 hours) chemotherapy. None of these patients, who received an average of 4 cycles of various ch emotherapy drugs in combination with fasting, reported significant  side  effects  caused  by  the  fasting  itself  other  than  hunger  and  lightheadedness.  Chemotherapy  associated toxicity  was  graded  according  to  the  Common  Terminology  Criteria   for  Adverse  Events  (CTCAE)  of  the  National  Cancer Institute  (NCI).  The  six  patients  who  underwent  chemotherapy  with  or  without  fasting  reported  a  reduction  in  fatigue, weakness, and gastrointestinal side effects while fasting. In those  patients whose cancer progression could be assessed, fasting did not prevent the chemotherapy‐induced reduction of  tumor volume or tumor markers. Although the 10 cases presented  here  suggest  that  fasting  in  combination  with  ch emotherapy  is  feasible,  safe,  and  has  the  potential  to ameliorate  side  effects  caused  by  chemotherapies,  they  are  not  meant  to  establish  practice  guidelines  for  patients undergoing  chemotherapy.  Only  controlled‐randomized  clinical  trials  will  determine  the  effect  of  fasting  on  clinical outcomes including quality of life and therapeutic index.