Fasting and Caloric Restriction in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 207)


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the USA and among the leading major diseases in the world. It is anticipated to continue to increase because of the growth of the aging population and prevalence of risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and/or poor dietary habits. Cancer treatment has remained relatively similar during the past 30 years with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy in combination with surgery remaining the standard therapies although novel therapies are slowly replacing or complementing the standard ones. According to the American Cancer Society, the dietary recommendation for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy is to increase calorie and protein intake. In addition, there are no clear guidelines on the type of nutrition that could have a major impact on cancer incidence. Yet, various forms of reduced caloric intake such as calorie restriction (CR) or fasting demonstrate a wide range of beneficial effects able to help prevent malignancies and increase the efficacy of cancer therapies. Whereas chronic CR provides both beneficial and detrimental effects as well as major compliance challenges, periodic fasting (PF), fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs), and dietary restriction (DR) without a reduction in calories are emerging as interventions with the potential to be widely used to prevent and treat cancer. Here, we review preclinical and preliminary clinical studies on dietary restriction and fasting and their role in inducing cellular protection and chemotherapy resistance.


Cancer Caloric restriction Dietary restriction Fasting Chemotherapy Stress resistance Sensitization 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, School of Gerontology, Longevity InstituteUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.IFOMFIRC Institute of Molecular OncologyMilanItaly

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