Published on Jul 2, 2018
Cancer cells have 10 times the amount of glucose and insulin receptors as a regular cell, which means that they are 10 times more likely to be susceptible to the negative effects of glucose, which is exactly why fasting is so critical when it comes down to cancer prevention and potentially even cancer treatment.
So, here’s the thing. By now, we know that fasting is extremely powerful when it comes down to dictating how a cell uses energy, how a normal, healthy cell within the body uses energy. Basically, fasting will help a normal cell start to utilize fats as a fuel source significantly better through manipulation of the mitochondrial machinery within a cell. But let’s take a look at how cancer cells are different from traditional cells, and in doing so, we understand exactly why fasting has such a profound effect on potentially treating cancer.
So, here’s the thing. Cancer cells cannot utilize aerobic metabolism. What does that mean? It means that cancer cells can’t utilize fats as a fuel source. They can’t create energy by combining oxygen with fat, whereas a normal cell in the body can. You see, cancer cells get almost all their energy through processes known as phosphorylation, which means it’s the fermentation of glucose, or the fermentation of glutamine, that essentially ends up giving a cancer cell energy.
What does that mean? That means that cancer cells thrive on glucose, sugar, carbohydrates. And this isn’t a carbohydrate bashing session. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not what I’m doing at all. I’m just saying that a cancer cell is 10 times more likely to utilize that sugar in a negative way simply because the insulin receptors are 10 times more than they are on a traditional healthy human cell. So when it comes down to a healthy cell, a healthy cell can go ahead and utilize fats whenever it wants, whereas a cancer cell ends up saying wait a minute. I can’t use fats. I’m just going to use more sugar and become more efficient at using sugar.
To start making some more sense of this outside of just the whole glucose side of things, there was a study that University of Southern California conducted that was published in the journal called Cancer Cell, and this study took a look at gene expression, which is a pretty interesting thing. It took a look at regulatory T cells. See, in our body we have these things called T cells. They go around and they slap labels on foreign bodies to have other T cells come around later and kill them. It’s what basically is our immune system and what basically fights off disease and foreign bodies.
Cancer cells are essentially a foreign body, so when we have a cancer cell that comes into our body and it starts to proliferate, starts to metastasize, we end up having an upregulation of T cell activity. We have a lot of T cells. But the other thing that we have to pay attention to is that our body is very good at adapting, and that means that even though cancer cells are bad, once they make a home in our body, our bodies welcome them in and do things to protect them, which means we start creating specific T cells that will actually protect the cancer cells.
You ever wonder why cancer is so hard to fight? Because cancer does a really good job of hijacking our immune system and making it so that it’s still really difficult to target, because every time we try to target a cancer cell, we’re also targeting a healthy cell. So there are specific T cells that actually protect cancer cells, and through fasting, USC found that it ended up downregulating specific gene expression of something known as the HO-1 gene inside a regulatory T cell.
1) Fasting-like diet turns the immune system against cancer – USC News. (2018, February 5). Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/103972/fasting-like-diet-turns-the-immune-system-against-cancer/
2) How fasting kills cancer cells and improves immune function. (2017, May 14). Retrieved from https://www.naturalhealth365.com/fasting-cancer-cells-2238.html
3) Fasting as a new complementary therapy for cancer | Buchinger Wilhelmi. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com/en/node/415
4) Intermittent Fasting for Cancer Patients | Mesothelioma.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://mesothelioma.net/intermittent-fasting-cancer-patients/
5) Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267662/
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