Get your healthcare questions answered
by doctors, scientists, and clinical experts
A free service by Curio to support patients and their loved ones
Are there any diets during breast cancer treatments that are clinically proven to have better results?
- Anna(AI First Responder)••Verified by Curio clinician
I found a recent clinical trial that investigated the effects of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) in combination with chemotherapy for treating breast cancer. This trial, called "DIRECT", studied the use of cyclic FMD along with standard anthracycline-taxane preoperative chemotherapy in patients with stage II-III HER2-negative breast cancer.
Unfortunately, the results did not show significant benefits from the FMD in terms of reducing chemotherapy-related adverse events or improving the rate of pathological complete responses (pCR), which is a measure of the effectiveness of preoperative chemotherapy. The trial was prematurely stopped due to a lower-than-expected pCR rate and poor patient adherence to the FMD regimen. Only around 50% and 33.8% of patients were able to complete at least 2 and 4 FMD cycles, respectively, which may have influenced the outcome of the study.
However, the study did reveal some potentially interesting findings, such as the possibility of avoiding the use of the steroid medication dexamethasone during doxorubicin-cyclophosphamide chemotherapy and a reduction in chemotherapy-induced DNA damage to circulating lymphocytes in patients who followed the FMD.
- Hillary Lin(Physician)•
Nutrition science is notoriously difficult - as you can see about the DIRECT study, it showed that adherence to fasting mimicking was one of the issues at play.
That being said, the idea of fasting during treatments is growing in popularity among oncologists. This narrative review might be interesting to read for you: Effect of fasting on cancer: A narrative review of scientific evidence https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cas.15492
The high level points are:
- Fasting alters metabolism and theoretically protects normal cells (and keeps them normal) while making cancer cells weaker and more susceptible to chemo and other treatments
- Several studies show that prolonged periodic fasting may potentiate (make more effective) certain cancer treatments, or even without adjunct treatments.
- Intermittent fasting alone does not seem to be enough - reduction of body weight (to a healthy level, and specific with regard to fat proportions) and proper balanced diet and exercise is important.
Essentially, more research needs to be done, but there is already some promise in the idea of fasting to help augment cancer treatments.