Original Article

Effect of fasting therapy in chemotherapy-protection and tumorsuppression: a systematic review

Lei Sun, Yong-Jiang Li, Xi Yang, Ling Gao, Cheng Yi


Background: The role of fasting therapy in cancer treatment has been evaluated in a number of studies with controversial results reported. Relevant studies are systematically reviewed to comprehensively evaluate the effects of fasting therapy in chemotherapy-protection and tumor-suppression, and to provide assistance for the further clinical trials.
Methods: Electronic literature searches were conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase and Cochrane Library. Studies were examined by two independent reviewers, and all eligible studies were included according to inclusion criteria.
Results: A total of 22 studies including 18 studies on mice and dogs, and 4 preliminary experiments on humans published from 2002 to 2016 were identified on chemotherapy-protection effects (n=10), tumor-suppression effects (n=15) and the relevant regulation in pathways (n=14). The methodologies and results of the studies were summarized and concluded in tables. Overall, fasting was found to have considerable effects in reducing chemotherapy side-effects (organ damage, toxic features, immunosuppression, reduced body weight and chemotherapy-induced death), suppressing tumor progression (tumor growth, metastasis, metabolic activity), and improving survival. Besides, fasting duration of longer than 48 hours was found to be crucial for exerting the effects of fasting therapy.
Conclusions: Overall, fasting may be a potentially feasible and effective option in cancer treatment to reduce chemotherapy side-effects, suppress tumor progression and further improve prognosis. Further prospective clinical trials with more patients included are still needed before fasting could be used in standard practice.

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