उपवास (फ़ास्ट) करने से कैंसर का खतरा कम Fasting Cuts Cancer Risks
Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India


Almost all religions suggest their followers to do fasting. The importance of fasting was realized long back and you should keep yourself practicing fasting. Fasting refers to not eating at all or consuming very few calories for a long time. Fasting cycles can last anywhere from 12 hours to 3 weeks. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the role of fasting in both cancer prevention and treatment.  According to multiple studies short and prolonged fasting periods have promising results in cancer treatment and prevention however, It is currently unclear which fasting schedule produces the best results,

In cancer patients, studies showed that fasting may help block tumour growth since it was found that due to nutrient deprivation and their dependency on specific metabolites for cancers which are new hallmarks of cancer, are not available for cancer to develop. Fasting reduces glucose levels in the blood, making it harder for cancers to grow. Cancer cells are fast growing and require a lot of energy which is quickly provided by glucose feed on glucose, consuming it at a much higher level than normal cells do. Some research suggests that fasting helps fight cancer by lowering insulin resistance and levels of inflammation.

Fasting maintains a healthy immune system

Fasting may provide several health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and decreased inflammation. It might also offer protection against certain conditions like cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

The researchers revealed that fasting for 2–4 days may protect stem cells against the adverse effects of chemotherapy on the immune system. Fasting also activates stem cells of the immune system to renew and repair themselves. A healthy immune system protects us by first creating a barrier that stops those invaders, or antigens, from entering the body, and if by any chance slips by the barrier, the immune system produces white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy these foreign substances.

Fasting could help boost immunity since 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, where diverse bacteria are best. Diet not only affects weight and energy levels throughout the day but also affects the immune system. Studies on rats and a small group of people in a clinical trial show that fasting while on chemotherapy helps to protect white blood cells and also grow new ones.

Fasting may help with cancer treatment too

Clinical trials and experimental research on animal models suggest that fasting may help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Fasting may help reduce chemotherapy-related headaches and nausea. Some researchers believe that fasting improves people’s response to chemotherapy because it does the following:

·        promotes cellular regeneration

·        protects blood against the harmful effects of chemotherapy

·        reduces the impact of side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, headaches, and cramps

·        the study used a 60-hour fasting period starting 36 hours before chemotherapy treatment.

The results show that participants fasting during chemotherapy reported higher tolerance to chemotherapy, fewer chemotherapy-related side effects, and higher energy levels when compared with those who did not fast.

There are various molecular mechanisms suggested for the prevention and treatment of cancer due to fasting, especially intermittent fasting. Fasting helps chemotherapy work better.  

 Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to extract glucose from the blood to use as energy. When more food is available, the cells in the body become less sensitive to insulin. This insulin resistance means that the cells no longer respond to insulin signals, leading to higher levels of glucose in the blood and higher fat storage. But when the food supply is scarce, the human body tries to conserve as much energy as possible.

One way it accomplishes this task is by making cell membranes more sensitive to insulin. Cells can metabolize insulin more efficiently, removing glucose from the blood. Better insulin sensitivity makes it harder for cancer cells to grow or develop.

Autophagy meaning “self-eating,” is a cell degradation process that allows cells to recycle damaged intracellular components to generate energy and provide building blocks to create new cellular structures. It also plays an important role in preventing and treating cancer in mouse models. The lower autophagy may enable initial tumour formation,  

The researchers revealed that fasting for 2–4 days may protect stem cells (that are the body's raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated) against the negative effects of chemotherapy on the immune system. Fasting also activates stem cells of the immune system to renew and repair themselves. Fasting also replenishes white blood cells and replaces damaged ones.

White blood cells fight infection and destroy cells that may cause disease. When white blood cell levels drop as a result of chemotherapy, it affects the immune system negatively. This means that the body has a harder time-fighting infections.

The number of white blood cells in the body decreases during fasting. However, when the fasting cycle concludes and the body receives food, white blood cell levels increase.

While fasting is hardly tolerated by patients, both animal and clinical studies show that cycles of low-calorie FMDs are feasible and overall safe  “Our results from a first-in-human clinical trial showed that a scheme of severe short-term calorie restriction was safe and biologically active in patients, and that its activity likely involved the activation of immune responses,” said Claudio Vernieri,

The authors have recently initiated new clinical trials, including the BREAKFAST trial, to investigate the antitumor effects of the FMD approach in cancer patients. These studies should further help scientists understand if the metabolic and immunological effects induced by calorie restriction have clinically relevant consequences improving the efficacy of antineoplastic therapies and prolonging the life expectancy of cancer patients. (The author has his own study and views)