The Ancient Treatment to Battle Cancer and Aging: Fasting
This post talks about the biological effects of fasting and how it destroys tumors, helps cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, has anti-aging benefits, and can activate dormant genes within our DNA to make our cells stronger.
Fasting can literally kill cancerous tissue. Not convinced? Well, it might help to know that multiple pharmaceutical companies have invested massive amounts of money and resources to utilize the SAME chemical and biological signals released when an individual fasts to develop anti-cancer medications.
Fasting was a major component of most ancient religions. For all we know, it could have been used as a ploy to help people get through tough times when food was scarce. However, modern science has gathered enough empirical data to show that fasting is actually very beneficial for the body, providing evidence that these ancient cultures knew a lot more than originally thought.
Before a cancer has metastasized, fasting can potentially destroy the tumor in its entirety! Even if a tumor has metastasized, fasting can be VERY beneficial in halting or slowing down further growth, giving the immune system some time to fight the cancer, and can help increase potency of chemotherapy to target cancer cells. Starvation (fasting) releases anti-growth factors, biological and chemical signals, which instruct cells to stop growing or dividing. Typically, cells grow and divide when there is ample energy and resources. However, when the body experiences a shortage of energy or recourses, cells begin to release anti-growth factors to slow down or halt cell growth and division. Cancer cells, however, have lost the innate ability to respond to these inhibitory signals sent by the body, thus growing and dividing uncontrollably. Anti-growth factors typically don’t affect cancer cells as much as they do healthy cells. However, the beauty of fasting is that we can literally starve the cancerous tissue and kill it.
Cancer cells secrete multiple biological and chemical signals promoting angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels), encouraging new blood vessels to form, supplying essential nutrients for a tumor to grow. If left unchecked, cells inside the tumor will enter the blood stream through the same blood vessels that feed it, spreading around the body in a process known as metastasis. Starvation (fasting) induces cells to release angiostatin and endostatin, proteins that inhibit angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels. Logically, by stopping the formation of new blood vessels, we can limit and possibly stop the flow of blood to the tumor; it cannot grow as fast and as large. Furthermore, when the body is starved, it begins to ration the remaining resources to the most essential organs and processes. The body naturally diverts blood flow away from tumors and other non-essential organs and directs it to the heart, kidneys, liver, et al. Also, since the digestive system isn’t using up any energy because there isn’t any food to digest, the body utilizes the nutrients and energy found in the blood that would otherwise be utilized by the digestive system, to help the immune system and other organs, thus giving the body more power to fight the cancer. Not convinced? Well, it might help to know that multiple pharmaceutical companies have been developing treatments that incorporate angiostatin and endostatin to cure cancer.
Research has shown that fasting increases chemotherapy potency
According to a study conducted at the University of Southern California by Dr. Valter Longo and his team, fasting for as little as 48 hours protects healthy cells against chemotherapy. Experiments conducted in test tubes confirmed normal human cells were two to five times more resistant than cancer cells to chemotherapy after a short period of starvation. Mice administered large doses of chemotherapy after 48 hours of starvation thrived whereas the same dose killed half of the normally fed mice and caused noticeable weight and energy loss in the remaining survivors.
Starving induces healthy cells to utilize certain genes that make them more resistant to stress and tolerable to higher doses of chemotherapy. It’s kind of like applying a protective shield around the healthy cells while the cancer cells are left vulnerable. If you recall, cancer cells have lost their ability to either die or stop dividing. Apparently, the piece of genetic code altered to cause cancer cells to divide uncontrollably also affects their ability to strengthen cells, or so this particular lab states.
Fasting has anti-aging benefits
Fasting also has wondrous anti-aging benefits. Every time a cell divides, the DNA gets shorter and shorter. At the ends of our DNA, we have long strands of non-essential code called telomeres. They are considered non-essential because they don’t code for anything. Their purpose is to act as a buffer for every time the cell copies the DNA. Every time a cell divides, it has to copy the DNA, and every time the DNA is copied, the ends get shorter and shorter. It finally reaches a point where the telomeres have gotten so short that if theDNA is copied any more, it destroys the genes closest to the ends. One of the major benefits of fasting is that we temporarily halt or slow down the cell dividing process. Now I know some of you are thinking, “what about the good cells, like our immune system, I don’t want them to stop dividing”. Here’s even better news, the body will use its energy and resources to keep its vital processes going, at the expense of the non-vital processes. If we can stop our cells from dividing as much, and if we can prolong the inevitable demise of our DNA, we can live younger and healthier. Once vital genes within the DNA are destroyed when a cell is dividing, it begins to produce malfunctioning or even toxic cells, which consequently destroy the body.
Finally, multiple studies have found that animals with low calorie diets stay younger and are better shielded against a multitude of diseases, especially cardiovascular (heart related) and neuro-degenerative (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.).