Recently, a dear friend of mine received the diagnosis of breast cancer. These days, it is to be expected to have someone close to you develop cancer.
When I heard, I had a screaming fit because she had really been trying hard to improve her diet and lifestyle over the last several years. It is so frustrating when someone is trying to avoid cancer in an active way and yet still develops it.
Breast cancer has become so prevalent in women it becomes almost mundane when I hear of yet another friend/acquaintance/relative who has received that diagnosis.
Does this mean that real food, grain free eating does not work? – that we are all going to get a disease no matter what we do?
Of course not and I hope you do not think this way. Sadly, we are all exposed to carcinogens no matter how hard we try. Most women I know with breast cancer go on to receive the conventional cut/burn/poison treatments and suffer all the side effects.
Following treatment they are tested for, and counseled about, which drugs they should take to avoid recurrence.
More toxicity to the body.
Even if there is a total mastectomy, breast cancer can recur in another part of the body. The maintenance drugs have to be used for years.
We know that these drugs can actually increase the risk for other types of cancer…
Let’s look at non-toxic ways to complement traditional therapies and reduce the need for maintenance treatments of yet more drugs.
Recent studies have shown that there are some things we can do to reduce the risk of recurrence, that are safe and cost effective.
For instance, this recent study published in the JAMA Oncology in 2016, studied how overnight fasting affects cancer recurrence and mortality among women with early-stage breast cancer.
The investigators made a point of studying overnight fasting – perhaps because it is the best way to achieve a fast of 12 to 16 hours –but also, in the words of the researchers,
Rodent studies demonstrate that prolonged fasting during the sleep phase positively influences carcinogenesis and metabolic processes that are putatively associated with risk and prognosis of breast cancer.
This study was apparently the first conducted on humans – 2413 women with breast cancer but without diabetes mellitus, aged 27 to 70 years at diagnosis and participated in the prospective Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study between March 1, 1995, and May 3, 2007. Data analysis was conducted from May 18 to October 5, 2015.
The researchers found that fasting less than 13 hours per night was associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer recurrence compared with fasting 13 or more hours per night. However, nightly fasting less than 13 hours was not associated with a statistically significant higher risk of breast cancer mortality or a statistically significant higher risk of all-cause mortality.
Additionally, each 2-hour increase in the nightly fasting duration was associated with significantly lower hemoglobin A1c levels and a longer duration of nighttime sleep.
The researchers concluded,
Prolonging the length of the nightly fasting interval may be a simple, nonpharmacologic strategy for reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Improvements in glucoregulation and sleep may be mechanisms linking nightly fasting with breast cancer prognosis.
This really peaked my interest:
A- because I practice intermittent fasting (IF) for a variety of reasons, one reason being that IF induces autophagy.
B- We have tons of science that indicates that sugar is behind so many diseases because it induces systemic inflammation and glucose dysregulation. Studies have shown that high hemoglobin A1c levels are associated with risk of all cancers.
Autophagy is “self eating”. This is the way our body kills pathogens that are inside the cells. The white blood cells kill pathogens that are circulating around in the blood or in the extracellular fluids. But how does the body kill the pathogens that are inside the cells? There are cell structures called lysosomes that recycle cellular junk — and recycle the important and useful fatty acids, amino acids and sugars for reuse.
When these basic nutrients are plentiful (as after a meal) autophagy is suppressed. However, it has been found that after only a short fast (less than 24 hours) autophagy is upregulated. This is a good thing and a benefit of intermittent fasting.
According to Dr. Jaminet (The Perfect Health Diet) a reasonable window for fasting is 16 hours – hence the 8 hour window for eating. Animal studies have shown that the 8 hour window for eating “delivers significant health benefits” (PHD p. 362).
Cancer cells exhibit mitochondrial dysfunction (Otto Warburg’s original theory) and have lost the ability to metabolize fatty acids and ketones. Cancer cells eat sugar, so when we eat sugar, we are feeding potential cancer cells.
In fact, a test for cancer diagnosis – the PET Scan actually shows tumor cells metabolizing sugar. That is how they find tumors – by the rate of sugar metabolism.
Sadly, most cancer patients are told by their oncologists to eat ice cream and anything else fattening (bad fats and sugar) in order to keep weight on. They are given that popular, good tasting drink made of corn sugars and rancid vegetable oils.
When my father was sick, he LOVED that drink, as much as I tried to talk to him about how bad it was.
Another study, published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, has shown that each 3-hour increase in nighttime fasting was associated with a 4% lower 2-hour glucose measurement and a non-statistically significant decrease in HbA1c – each 3 hour increase in nighttime fasting duration was associated with roughly a 20% reduced odds of elevated HbA1c and non-significantly reduced odds of elevated 2-hour glucose.
The researchers concluded that,
A longer nighttime duration was significantly associated with improved glycemic regulation.
I’m very happy about this because I have been practicing IF for a few years now and along with a Paleo diet, it helps with keeping my HbA1c down, weight management (read how I lost weight and cravings eating 8 hours a day) and hunger in general – I don’t even feel hungry all morning – and I feel more confident about my strategy for cancer prevention and longevity.