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Controlled Fasting Beneficial to Patients Receiving Radiation Therapy

Update Date: Sep 12, 2012 09:18 AM EDT

A new study by the researchers from the USC suggests that the radiation therapy may be effective if the patient practices controlled fasting, and this could lead to the increased life expectancy.  

Previous studies by USC professor of gerontology and biological sciences Valter Longo, corresponding author on the study and director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, had suggested that short-term fasting could protect healthy cells while leaving cancer cells vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemotherapy.

The current study is the first to suggest that fasting periods could have the same augmenting effect on the radiation therapy while treating gliomas.

Gliomas are the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor.

"With our initial research on chemotherapy, we looked at how to protect patients against toxicity. With this research on radiation, we're asking, what are the conditions that make cancer most susceptible to treatment? How can we replicate the conditions that are least hospitable to cancer?" Longo said, according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers studied the combination of fasting with radiation therapy along with Temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug in adults after an attempt at surgical removal of brain tumors.

Their study findings suggested that the controlled short-term fasting (less than 48 hours at a stretch) in mice could improve the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy in treating gliomas.

In spite of the fact that this type of brain tumor has an extremely aggressive growth, more than twice as many mice which fasted and received radiation therapy survived to the end of the trial period when compared to others which received only radiation or fasting.

"The results demonstrate the beneficial role of fasting in gliomas and their treatment with standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy," the researchers write.

They also added that the findings indicate the benefits of the short-term, controlled fasting for humans receiving treatment for brain tumors.

"You want to balance the risks. You have to do it right. But if the conditions are such that you've run out of options, short-term fasting may represent an important possibility for patients," Longo added.

The study appears online in PLOS One.

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