Can a Fast-Mimicking Diet improve Mesothelioma survival rates?

 By Kathy Cooke.  19th January 2022

Scientists are constantly striving to improve treatment for cancers including mesothelioma. The aim is to control the disease and keep symptoms under control for as long as possible. This is especially challenging with mesothelioma treatment which spreads rapidly through the membranes that surround the lungs, abdomen and heart.

Fast-Mimicking Diet for Mesothelioma

Scientists are making some progress with new immunotherapy treatments and drugs.

However, these treatments are not available to everyone, only those who meet specific criteria are considered.

They are expensive and not always appropriate to those with advanced cancer, or too old and frail for the therapy.

New research from Italy has focused on boosting anti-tumour immunity by restricting calories during cancer treatment. This was done by cyclic fasting or fasting-mimicking diets which could apply to more patients and be significantly cheaper.

Researchers at The FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (IFOM) in Milan have recently tested the fast-mimicking diets on mice with tumours. A fast-mimicking diet is one that mimics fasting by restricting calorie intake with low-carbohydrate and low-protein. However, unlike fasting, this diet allows for enough calories to prevent nutritional deficiencies, which is of vital importance during the treatment of mesothelioma and other cancers.

Results of the Fast-Mimicking Diet trails

The results of these tests demonstrated anti-tumour activity in combination with chemotherapy or immunotherapy. The diet changing the metabolism of the mice by reducing blood glucose and insulin, which inhibited the anabolic processes that sustain unrestrained tumour growth and the repair of chemotherapy effects in cancer cells. It was also shown to boost tumour infiltration by T cells - the effectors of antitumor immune responses.

On the basis of this pre-clinical evidence, clinical trials were initiated on humans to investigate the feasibility and anti-tumour activity of Fast-Mimicking Diets in combination with standard cancer treatments. The Italian research investigated the safety and feasibility of a severely calorie-restricted, five-day Fast-Mimicking Diet in cancer patients. This was followed by 16 to 23 days of re-feeding.

For these five days, 101 cancer patients ate up to 600 calories on the first day, then up to 300 calories on each of the next four days. The regimen was repeated every three to four weeks for up to eight cycles with cancer patients going through an average of four diet cycles.

The patients had a variety of different cancers and were on different types of treatment. Patients who were underweight or at risk for malnutrition were excluded.

How the Diet Might Improve Mesothelioma Outcomes

Overall, a total number of 440 diet cycles were completed. Blood samples were collected before the start of each new diet cycle and at the end of five-day diet for blood cell counts and standard biochemical evaluations.

The researchers report that the Fast-Mimicking Diet profoundly reshapes anti-cancer immunity . . .

  • It reduced serum glucose by 18.6%
  • It reduced insulin by 50.7%
  • It reduced insulin-like growth factor 1 by 30.3%
  • It increased average urinary ketones from 0.18 mg/dL to 59.9 mg/dL

These have all been shown to stimulate cancer growth and promote progression.

They concluded that the five-day dietary regimen that mimics fasting reshapes systemic metabolism and anti-tumour immunity in cancer patients. Also that it is safe and feasible when repeated every 21 to 28 days in combination with standard cancer treatments. More research is needed but the results suggest that this approach might improve mesothelioma outcomes.

Oncologist Claudio Vernieri who is the director of the Metabolic Reprogramming in Solid Tumors program concludes . . .

“ Our findings lay the foundations for phase II/III clinical trials aimed at investigating FMD antitumor efficacy in combination with standard antineoplastic treatments ”

Please note that cancer patients should not attempt to improve mesothelioma outcomes with their own versions of the diet. Changing your diet or vastly reducing calorie intake without careful medical supervision could interfere with cancer treatment and could even be dangerous.

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