ISLAMABAD: Medical studies and research for new methods in the treatment of chronic diseases suggests that fasting could help combat cancer and boost effectiveness of treatment.
Scientists doing research on the positive aspects of fasting discovered that it triggers stem cell regeneration and combats cancer.
Dr. Mashhor Al-Hantoushi, who heads the health and therapeutic affairs department at the Ministry of Health, told Arab media.
“Medical research studies found that fasting could slow the growth of breast cancer, melanoma skin cancers, glioma brain cancer and neuroblastoma, a cancer that forms in the nerve tissue.”
Replying to a question on whether fasting could make chemotherapy more effective with fewer side effects as suggested by recent research, Al-Hantoushi maintained that in several cases, fasting was as effective as chemotherapy and equally helpful in combating the spread of tumors.
Moreover, fasting was found to have a mitigating effect on chemotherapy, he added.
“Some cancer patients who tried fasting perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy,” he said. Chemotherapy has side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, deafness and hair loss.
Researchers at the University of Southern California recently discovered that fasting slowed the growth and spread of tumors, and cured some cancers when it was combined with chemotherapy.
It is expected that more research will lead to the development of an effective treatment plan, Al-Hantoushi observed.
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that when experimented on mice, tumor cells responded differently to the stress of fasting compared to normal cells; instead of entering a dormant state similar to hibernation, cells kept growing and dividing, finally destroying themselves.
In every case, combining fasting with chemotherapy made the cancer treatment more effective. But none of the mice survived when they were treated with chemotherapy alone.
Al-Hantoushi hopes that the findings will lead to the development of an effective treatment plan and further medical research, which is now under way, will prove that fasting may be the best way to combat cancer. However, he reiterated that these studies were done on animals.
As far as humans are concerned, only clinical trials lasting for some years can demonstrate whether humans would benefit from the same treatment.