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Originally published November 9 2008

Starvation Protects the Body Against Chemotherapy

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Researchers have proposed using fasting as a way to reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy, in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In theory, it opens up new treatment approaches that will allow higher doses of chemotherapy," said University of California-Los Angeles cancer researcher Pinchas Cohen, who did not take part in the study. "It's a direction that's worth pursuing in clinical trials in humans."

Researchers starved both healthy and cancerous yeast and human cells in laboratory dishes, then exposed them to chemotherapy drugs. The healthy cells survived the toxic dosage, but the cancer cells did not.

Many of the difficult side effects of chemotherapy arise from the fact that the chemicals used also kill healthy cells.

The researchers then starved half of a group of mice for 48 hours, then gave all the mice a dose of chemotherapy three times higher than the human maximum concentration. Forty-three percent of the non-starved mice died, but only one of the starved mice did. After chemotherapy ended and a normal diet was resumed, the starved mice regained all the lost weight.

The same effect occurred with all four chemotherapy drugs tested. An even higher dose was used on a different genetic strain of mice, killing 100 percent of the mice on a normal diet and none of the starved mice.

The researchers speculated that starved cells can resist stress better because they go into an energy-saving hibernation mode. Tumor cells, which lack the ability to turn themselves off, cannot hibernate. If hibernation protects against toxins, this could explain why starvation protects against chemotherapy.

"The clinicians tell me that if it works everybody will do it," said lead researcher Valter Longo. "[People] are miserable after they get the chemo and they lose weight because they don't want to eat after they get the chemo."

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