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Fasting as an Effective Anti-Cancer Strategy: Inspiring Success Stories

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By: Ellen Wan

Fasting has gained much popularity in recent years. In addition to its weight loss benefits, research has found that fasting also plays a role in cancer prevention and treatment.

In the two inspiring stories below a stage IV cancer patient achieved remarkable success in fighting and eliminating cancer through fasting, and a Japanese physician who followed a 16-hour fasting routine for 13 years is living cancer free.

Two Intermittent Fasting Success Stories

Dr. Eric Berg, a chiropractor, renowned health author, and internet personality, interviewed Guy Tenenbaum, a cancer patient, on his YouTube channel. Tenenbaum had previously been diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer, but since then his cancer has disappeared. Prior to the cancer diagnosis, Tenenbaum had been dealing with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, bone and joint pain, inflammation, and weighed about 230 pounds (104 kilograms).

According to the interview, in August 2018, Tenenbaum went to the hospital due to left-side chest pain. During the examination, the doctors discovered a significantly elevated level of prostate-specific antigen in his blood, measuring 57, prompting an immediate biopsy.

Upon receiving the biopsy results, he sought consultations with a urologist and an oncologist. Regrettably, both doctors conveyed that it was too late and there was nothing they could do. The oncologist even told him that the cancer cells had already metastasized to the sternum, leaving Tenenbaum with an estimated lifespan of three months.

Determined to survive, Tenenbaum challenged the doctors’ prognosis and opted for an alternative approach, spending 18 hours a day conducting his own research. During his research, he came across the autophagy theory proposed by Nobel laureate, Yoshinori Ohsumi.

Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist, discovered that cells undergo a process called autophagy during fasting or starvation, where they consume themselves due to a lack of nutrients and energy supply, as a response to temporary survival pressure. Ohsumi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research findings on this phenomenon.

Autophagy is a cellular process that helps maintain homeostasis by recycling molecules and clearing damaged proteins and organelles. It has preventive effects on various diseases and also plays a vital role in cancer treatment.

While searching online for natural methods to fight cancer, Tenenbaum came across the story of a cancer patient who, after not eating for more than 25 days, passed away due to lack of nutrition, but the cancer cells in their body had disappeared. This inspired him to embark on his own fasting journey, persevering for a total of 45 days. Since then, he has been practicing intermittent fasting.

During his fasting period, Tenenbaum refrained from consuming regular food and limited his calorie intake. However, he made a conscious effort to supplement his diet with cancer-fighting nutrients. He incorporated green tea into his diet and consumed various spices like ginger, turmeric, and black pepper. He also included different forms of garlic, such as raw garlic, black garlic, garlic powder, and garlic capsules. “I don’t know which one was effective,” he said.

He took protein supplements for energy and included cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and asparagus in his meals. He allowed himself to eat a small piece of chicken once a week.

Japanese Doctor Achieved 13-Year Cancer Remission Through Intermittent Fasting

Atsushi Aoki, a renowned Japanese internist and director of a diabetes clinic, noticed a white patch on his tongue while brushing his teeth at the age of 40. Ten months later, he experienced pain while eating, leading to a diagnosis of stage 1 tongue cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a quarter of his left tongue.

“I couldn’t leave my children behind and die. I was determined to survive no matter what.” At the time, Aoki had two young children attending kindergarten, and his wife was pregnant with another child. To prevent cancer recurrence and the development of other cancers, he delved into extensive research on the subject. After conducting his research, he devised a 16-hour fasting method to induce cellular autophagy and eliminate cancer cells. Aoki has remained committed to intermittent fasting since 2009, and he has remained cancer-free ever since.

Many people may have concerns about whether they can endure prolonged hunger. Aoki explained that the intense feeling of hunger can be difficult to tolerate for the first few days. However, it gradually subsides after a few days, and once accustomed to it, individuals may notice heightened sensory perception and improved focus.

Aoki suggested incorporating sleep time into the fasting period. For example, one can have breakfast at 9 a.m., skip lunch, and have dinner before 5 p.m., ensuring a fasting period of 16 hours from dinner until breakfast the following day. One can also start with a 12-hour fasting period and gradually extend it to 16 hours if 16 is too challenging. In case of hunger during the fasting period, it is possible to alleviate it by consuming snacks like unsalted nuts, raw vegetables, cheese, or yogurt.

Clinical studies have found that prolonging the length of nightly fasting interval can help reduce risk of cancer recurrence. A study published in JAMA Oncology in 2016 revealed that among 2,413 women who had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, those with less than 13 hours of fasting duration during the night were more likely to experience recurrence, with a 36 percent increased risk compared to those with fasting duration longer than 13 hours.

Longer nightly fasting duration was associated with lower levels of glycated hemoglobin and longer sleep duration, both of which contribute to a reduced risk of developing cancer.

Intermittent Fasting for Obese Cancer Patients

In August 2021, the American Cancer Society published a review in their journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, suggesting that overweight or obese cancer patients may consider intermittent fasting. Alongside intermittent fasting, they are advised to engage in regular physical activity and follow a healthy diet, which includes consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Preliminary studies indicate that extended fasting in certain cancer patients appears to be safe and may have the potential to reduce chemotherapy-related side effects and tumor growth. However, the mechanisms and molecular pathways underlying intermittent fasting remain unanswered. The author suggests that further trials are required to fully understand the risks and benefits of fasting in cancer patients.

A Doctor’s Advice: Long-term Fasting Inadvisable for Frail Cancer Patients

Though there are reported successes, it is important to consider whether fasting is suitable for everyone as an anti-cancer approach. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners highlight the variations in individual constitution, emphasizing that prolonged fasting as an anti-cancer strategy may not be advisable for individuals with weak physical conditions.

During an interview with Epoch Times, Dr. Teng Cheng-Liang, the superintendent of Chi Teh Medical Clinic in Taiwan, highlighted the potential risks associated with prolonged fasting and the possibility of adverse effects if not approached with caution. He stressed the importance of patients having a strong and well-nourished body for long-term fasting as an anti-cancer approach. Conversely, he advised against it for patients who are nutritionally deficient and physically weak.

Teng further explained that the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells lies in their constant need for division and proliferation, which results in a higher demand for nutrients. By controlling nutrient intake, the growth of tumor cells can be managed, and in some instances, cancer cells can even be starved to death.

Teng highlighted that there are many different approaches to cancer treatment, emphasizing the importance of choosing a method that aligns with the individual’s specific needs. For individuals who require high-calorie and nutrient-rich foods, opting for a ketogenic diet as an anti-cancer approach may be a suitable choice.


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