Fasting-mimicking diet in combination with hormonal therapy has the potential to help in the treatment of breast cancer, according to a USC-led team of international scientists.
In studies on mice and two little breast cancer clinical trials, researchers at the University of southern California and IFOM cancer Institute in Milan, in collaboration with Genoa University — found that starvation-mimicking diet reduces blood insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and leptin.
In mice, these effects appear to increase the power of cancer hormonal agents tamoxifen and fulvestrant and delay any resistance. Results of the 36 women who received hormone therapy and a fasting-mimicking diet are promising but researchers say it’s still too early to determine whether the effect is confirmed in large clinical trials.
The study was published in the journal Nature.
“Our new study shows that fasting-mimicking diet with the endocrine therapy of breast cancer has the potential to not only reduce the tumor and reverse the resistant tumors in mice,” says Valter Longo, the study’s co-senior author of the study and Director of the Institute of longevity part of the USC Leonard Davis school of gerontology and Professor of biological Sciences at the USC Dornsife College of letters, arts and Sciences.
“We have data that for the first time suggests that starvation-mimicking diet works by changing at least three different factors: IGF1, leptin and insulin,” added Longo.
The researchers argue that two small clinical trials feasibility studies, which have shown promising results, but they in no way are not final. They believe that the obtained results support further clinical studies fasting-mimicking diet is used in combination with endocrine therapy in hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Scientists have also contributed to a recent clinical study in 129 patients with breast cancer, conducted at the University of Leiden. The results, published last month in nature communications, there increased effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients receiving a combination of chemotherapy and fasting-mimicking diet.
In two new clinical trials, one of which was aimed at the study co-author Alessio Nencioni — patients with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer receiving treatment with estrogens along with cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet, it seemed, was experiencing metabolic changes, similar to those observed in mice.
These changes included the reduction of insulin, leptin and IGF1 levels, with the last two remaining at a low level over a long period. In mice, these long-term consequences associated with prolonged antitumor activity, therefore further studies are needed on humans.
“Some patients were followed by monthly cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet for almost two years without any problems, suggesting it is well-tolerated intervention. We hope this means that the nutrition program that mimics starvation may one day represent the weapons to better fight cancer patients receiving hormonal therapy without serious side effects,” said Nencioni.
“The results in mice are very promising. And early clinical results show potential, but now we have to see how it works in 300 to 400-patient trial,” explained Longo.
The data also suggest that in mice, fasting-mimicking diet for the prevention of tamoxifen-induced endometrial hyperplasia, a condition in which endometrium (or uterus) becomes abnormally thick. The study’s authors believe that this potential use in fasting diet needs to be examined in more detail, given the prevalence of this side effect of tamoxifen and the limited options for its prevention.
About 80 percent of all breast cancers Express estrogen and/or progesterone. The most common forms of hormonal therapy for breast cancer These work by blocking hormones from attaching to receptors on cancer cells or a decrease in the production of hormones in the body. Endocrine therapy is often effective in these hormone-receptor-positive tumors, but long-term benefits are often hampered by a resistance to treatment.
Several clinical trials, including one at USC on breast cancer and prostate patients, is currently studying the effect of fasting-mimicking diets in combination with various anticancer drugs.
“I like to call it non-toxic substitution cancer treatment. The clinical trial data we’ve just published — along with many fodder studies published over the last 12 years, suggest that cycles of fasting-mimicking diet has the potential to make standard therapy more effective against various types of cancer, each time changing a different factor or nutrients required for cancer cell survival,” said Longo.
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