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Monday, 16 January 2017

Fasting could Stunt Leukaemia into Remission

Leukaemia a malignant progressive disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leucocytes  which invariably suppresses the production of normal blood cells, leading to anaemia and other symptoms. The newest leukaemia research findings suggest that intermittent fasting may literally starve the cancer cells. The study, by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explores different pathways by which acute lymphoblastic leukaemia may be targeted more successfully.

Though considered a rare disease, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which is the most common form of childhood cancer, peaking in early childhood between the ages of 2 and 4. The cancer involves the overproduction of immature white blood cells in the bone marrow. These cancerous cells invade the blood and other organ systems, causing massive cell death and damage in a short amount of time. Based on previous research that suggests fasting may augment chemotherapy outcome, researchers at University of Texas Southwestern decided to investigate this line of treatment in several mouse models of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). The mice received either normal feeding or were subject to a dietary restriction consistent with intermittent fasting.

Chengcheng Zhang the study lead author who is an associate professor at UT Southwestern, said “Strikingly, we found that in models of ALL, a regimen consisting of six cycles of 1 day of fasting followed by 1 day of feeding completely inhibited cancer development," Within 7 weeks on the fasting diet, the mice had undetectable levels of leukaemia cells in the bone marrow and spleen, a promising sign of disease remission. By contrast, mice on the normal diet regimen contained nearly 70 percent of cancerous cells in the affected organs.
"Although initially cancerous, the few fluorescent cells that remained in the fasted mice after 7 weeks appeared to behave like normal cells. Mice in the ALL model group that ate normally died within 59 days, while 75 percent of the fasted mice survived more than 120 days without signs of leukaemia,” reported Zhang.

The exact mechanism behind this effect is yet to be fully understood. However, Zhang’s team suspect it involves leptin, a “satiety hormone” released to inhibit the hunger sensation. "We found that fasting decreased the levels of leptin circulating in the bloodstream as well as decreased the leptin levels in the bone marrow," said Zhang. "These effects became more pronounced with repeated cycles of fasting," he adds. "After fasting, the rate at which the leptin levels recovered seemed to correspond to the rate at which the cancerous ALL cells were cleared from the blood."


This outstanding result implies that fasting augmented with normal treatment will be helpful, but as it is now, it hasn’t been clinically tested in human. For this reason patients or caretakers should not yet consider fasting as a treatment plan.
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