February 2, 2023

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Fasting plus Vitamin C are effective for difficult-to-treat cancers

Fasting plus Vitamin C are effective for difficult-to-treat cancers


A major breakthrough in Nature Communications: Fasting plus Vitamin C are effective for difficult-to-treat cancers.

Scientists from the University of Southern California (USC) and the IFOM Cancer Institute in Milan have discovered that a diet that mimics fasting combined with vitamin C may be more effective in treating certain types of cancer.


In the study of mice, the researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in multiple mouse colorectal cancer models ; in some mice, it caused the disease to resolve. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.


“We showed for the first time how to effectively treat cancer with completely non-toxic interventions,” said Valter Longo, the corresponding author of the study and professor of geriatrics and biological sciences at the USC Longevity Institute. “We have taken two treatments that have been widely studied for anti-aging interventions – a diet that mimics fasting and vitamin C – and combined them as an effective cancer treatment.”


Fasting plus Vitamin C are effective for difficult-to-treat cancers

Image source: Nature Communications


Researchers say that although fasting is still a challenging option for cancer patients, a safer and more feasible option is a low-calorie, plant-based diet, which allows cells to respond to It’s like the body is fasting. Their findings suggest that a low-toxicity treatment that mimics a fasted diet plus vitamin C may replace more toxic treatments.


Previous studies on the anti-cancer effects of vitamin C have been inconsistent. However, recent studies have begun to show some efficacy, especially in combination with chemotherapy. In this new study, the research team wanted to find out whether a diet that mimics fasting can enhance the anti-cancer effects of high-dose vitamin C by creating an environment that is harmful to cancer cells but still safe for normal cells.


“Our first in vitro experiment showed a significant effect,” Longo said. “When used alone, imitating a fasting diet or vitamin C can reduce the growth of cancer cells and cause a slight increase in cancer cell death. But when they are used together, they have a dramatic effect, killing almost all cancer cells. .”


Longo and his colleagues only found this strong effect in KRAS mutant cancer cells considered to be one of the most challenging targets in cancer research. These mutations in the KRAS gene indicate that the human body is resisting most anti-cancer treatments, and they reduce the survival rate of patients. KRAS mutations occur in approximately one-quarter of human cancers, and it is estimated that up to half of all colorectal cancers occur.


The study also provides some clues as to why previous studies on vitamin C as a potential anti-cancer therapy have shown limited effectiveness. On its own, vitamin C treatment seems to protect cancer cells by increasing ferritin (a protein that binds iron) and triggering KRAS mutant cells. But by lowering the level of ferritin, scientists managed to increase the toxicity of vitamin C to cancer cells. In this discovery, the scientists also found that colorectal cancer patients with high levels of iron-binding protein have a lower survival rate.


“In this study, we observed how fast-simulating diet cycles can improve the efficacy of pharmacological doses of vitamin C on KRAS mutant cancers,” said research co-author Maira Di Tano, of the IFOM Molecular Oncology Research Center in Milan, Italy . “This is achieved by regulating the level of iron and the molecular mechanisms involved in oxidative stress. The results of the study are specifically aimed at a gene that controls iron levels: heme oxygenase-1.”


The research team’s previous studies have shown that fasting and diets that mimic fasting can slow the progression of cancer, making chemotherapy more effective on tumor cells, while protecting normal cells from chemotherapy-related side effects. In mouse models of breast cancer and melanoma, this combination enhanced the immune system’s anti- tumor response.


Scientists believe that the treatment of cancer will eventually use low-toxic drugs, similar to antibiotics used to treat infections that kill specific bacteria , but if the first drug is ineffective, other drugs can be used instead.


To achieve this goal, they said, they need to test two hypotheses first: their non-toxic combination intervention will work in mice, and it looks promising in human clinical trials. In this new study, they said they have demonstrated both. There are currently at least five clinical trials , including one at the University of Southern California on breast and prostate cancer patients, and are now studying the effects of a diet that mimics fasting in combination with different anti-cancer drugs.





A combo of fasting plus vitamin C is effective for hard-to-treat cancers, study shows

Maira Di Tano et al, Synergistic effect of fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C against KRAS mutated cancers, Nature Communications (2020).

Fasting plus Vitamin C are effective for difficult-to-treat cancers

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