Yes - my on cologist was not happy with my doing it saying I needed to keep up my strength. I decided to go ahead anyway as I had had it recommended to me by someone I trusted and the research (limited though it is) was encouraging. He is less critical now and expresses interest. I made an agreement with myself that if my bloods didn't recover and/or I couldn't replace any lost weight, I wouldn't repeat it, but so far this hasn't been a problem. However, it's not for everyone and I think we have to do what feels right for us. I agree that there is an awful lot of conflicting information out there! Good luck. Janice x
Hi there. Just updating on my experience. Have now had 4 (out of 6) treatments and have fasted for each one. I have just started fasting for number 5. I start fasting after lunch on Wednesday and have the treatment on a Friday pm. I have felt quite weak and wobbly by Friday morning so have had a small snack of avacado and banana before leaving for the hospital. This has helped enormously. I then fast for an additional 24 hours after so eat again around Saturday early pm.
I lost my hair after the first treatment and have had lower energy levels. This is worst during the first week but energy picks up towards the end of week one. Took a bit longer last time round. I had a cough though, so don't know whether this affected me or just the cumulative effect. My blood counts have been good, though somewhat lower this time round. Apart from this have had very few side effects. Slight constipation but easily remedied by one off dose of senna on last 2 rounds. No nausea and eat well once start eating again and have always regained any weight loss by time I start fasting again.
Oncologist was reluctant for me to do this but now expresses interest but continues to say not enough evidence and of course we don't know how I'd have been if I hadn't fasted! I'm sort of tempted to try a round without fasting to see if there is any difference, but this feels quite scary as feel I've got away relatively unscathed so far. Nurses etc never heard about the fasting and express more interest than Drs have but don't know if they ever follow this up.
Interested to keep hearing about others' experiences.
Can see this is an old thread, but resurrecting it rather than starting a new one seemed like a good idea to keep it in one place. I stumbled across mention of fasting and chemo, so was wondering if anyone here had any updates or any more thoughts on it now please? Hope everyone is doing as well as possible under the circumstances.
I have done Eat Stop Eat before, which is 24hour fasting, and don't feel that bad fasting, but I do get very cold so I'm wondering how a much longer period would affect me. I haven't got the very final diagnosis as I'm waiting for MRI, but I do know that I have lobular cancer that is hormone receptor positive and HER2+ and will be having chemo either before or after surgery.
Just as a bit of advice for anyone reading this that has never tried fasting but is considering it - it's easier if you have been eating very well, as in very nutricious food, prior to starting and keep yourself busy in the early stages. Hot drinks like herbal tea can help a lot too.
Hi Yawnin, I agree with you--fasting is a well guarded secret. I learned about it from my granddaughter who happened to see an article as she was studying to be a nurse. I talked to my oncologist about it and because he fasts himself, he was somewhat familiar with Longo's original research, but wasn't aware there had been any human studies. Every other nurse, oncologist, practitioner, etc. I spoke with at my cancer center was totally unaware of the research or concept. It's a pity.
I believe fasting helped with my side effects. It didn't appear to help with the tumor itself, though. I went through chemo before surgery with the hope the tumor would shrink. But it didn't.
Still worth it in my opinion. And it was easy enough for me since I was highly motivated.
Best of Luck!
I just finished 6/8 treatments today (4/4 FEC; 2/4 Doxatrel in the can). I have done the Valter Longo fast from the beginning. I fast 48 hours before treatment and 24 hours after. I lost my hair back in a March and I get tired fairly easily but I really have not experienced much for significant side effects so far. My blood counts have been well into the normal range for the most part. I had never fasted before but avoiding/minimizing side effects is solid motivation for me.
Hi there! Found your thread while searching for Longo's research to tell someone about! Yes, I've been on chemo since 4/21 (every other week) and have done this FMD every instance. I don't know what my experience is compared to others, I can only relay what I experienced. I did HCG several years ago to lose weight, so a 500=calorie diet wasn't new and wasn't intimidating to me at all. My naturopath, whom I've engaged in addition to my oncologist, is the one who turned me on to this research, so I thought it made sense and decided to do it. The naturo has me on a heart protectant, and two other mushrooms, plus L-glutamine for 4 days (for mouth health) after infusion.
I usually have about 3 days of post-chemo nausea/tiredness after each of the 4 infusions so far. I've only had one day "on the couch" and I blame the CBD/THC (I live in Colorado, have my medical card, and have access to myriad edibles, tinctures, and oils to combat nausea) for that day on the couch.....I guess I just preferred to watch politics that day rather than working. And with the THC on board, I thought that was the wiser choice! If you get my drift.
My hair has still fallen out, I'm still tired sometimes, if I'm not careful about spicy food I will get a canker sore or two (figured that out quickly enough), I've vomited once (after the first infusion), the nausea is controlled with ondansetron and CBD oil, the lack of appetite is controlled with THC.
Overall, I GUESS I'm doing good. 4 more admins, DONE in 8 weeks.
Thanks for posting about this!!!!! It seems like a well-guarded secret that should get more coverage.
I'll probably incorporate fasting into my life forever after reading Longo's research. I went vegan and stopped all alcohol 2 days after diagnosis (nothing like shutting that barn door after the cow's long gone) so I'm just throwing the kitchen sink at cancer and hoping for the best! That's not to say that I don't indulge in a greasy creamy food craving about 5 days post infusion, but for the most part, I'm over animal products and completely over alcohol (2010 research about alcohol increasing the risk of breast cancer 50% with as little as less than a drink a day found me in 2011, and I did switch from wine to beer. Apparently, that wasn't enough, 🙂 ).
I fasted for all my chemos, BUT I am not new to fasting. I follow a scheme called Eat, Stop, Eat and have done for years. Therefore I did not get light headed nor did I feel hungry, that only happens when you are used to eating every couple of hours when you are awake.
Anyway, I did not have many side effects, no tummy upset, no mouth ulcers, no cold sores, no thrush. I did get the fatigue and I did get low blood counts - so low that I had to stop having chemo after 4 rounds when I should have had 6. That happens to people that don't fast as well so the fasting did not cause that.
I believe, we all have a journey to go through and if you wish to try something "alternative" then that is up to you. Fasting as a lot of research behind it and it will be good for some and not for others.
Some of us want to more than come out the other side, if we want to eat normally, we will. If we want to eat junk food we will. If we want to fast, we should be able to, without being judged.
I am a bit concerned about this - fasting will give you headaches and weakness in any circumstances, it's very over rated and can be really bad for you- is it a good idea during Chemo therapies? Of course we want to have something under our own control, as, frankly, not a lot is otherwise at the moment. I know I would!
But my instinct, and to be honest the practicalities, tend towards a lower intake of seriously nourishing stuff - being scottish it's a lot of home made soup, of course, smoothies (who makes smoothies from vegetables - ew!), pasta sauces and the healthy, colourful fresh ingredients that are known to boost the immune system and lots to drink.
But, on the other hand, if you fancy some junk food and chocolate, and it doesn't send you flying in th direction of the loo, then why not? Who said we become angels all of a sudden - if only! You just need to be good to yourself.
In dealing with Chemeo and side effects - whatever works for you and doesnt do damage is fine. I personally would avoid didgy unproven theories with scientific sounding names like the plague. And I certainly would not subject my body or my psyche, which has enough to cope with, to fasting.
This isn't a time of your life like any other and the normal rules dont apply - but at the other end, when you are out of chemo and everything else, you are going to look and feel wonderful and life will be great. Promise. x
Hi Janice, and others , no SE following first chemo. Good strong anti nausea pills, so coped with ginger nuts plus ginger tea. Eleven days in and one bout of pain since last injection. Chemo fatigue yesterday, so had a leisurely day. Baked and cleaned today. Could be new diet, could be I'm a stubborn old bu***r, or just I'm used to fatigue as I have fibromyalgia. So pleased that SEs are minimal, but it is early days, and I understand the effects are cumulative. X
Hi everyone. I've found reading the posts below really helpful so thought I'd add my own experience.
I too came across the research about fasting just before starting my chemo. I decided to give it a go, despite my oncologist not being very happy about it. That felt quite scary I must admit as it felt a bit lonely. However, I fasted from after evening meal on Tuesday evening, had first round of chemo last Friday, and started eating again Saturday mid-morning. Water only during that time. I reckon that's about 60 hours before and 24 after.
The experience of fasting was ok. I'm quite a determined person, so having decided to do it, and not giving myself any choice in the matter it became quite easy. Hunger was easy to manage. Felt a bit wobbly on the Friday morning (which could have been nerves anyway) so had few sips of a homemade smoothie before I went in and again just before taking the anti sickness med which was supposed to be taken with food. I really didn't want to flake out on them and be criticised for starving myself!
So far SEs have been bearable (it's now Monday eve). I'm very tired and sleeping loads. Have had slight feelings of nausea, but nothing very much. Nothing else to report so far. One of my main concerns is about putting weight back on afterwards as I'm quite thin already. I've had no problem eating and am eating little and often at any opportunity I can as I really want to regain the weight if I'm going to give it another go.
Of course I have no idea how I would have been if I hadn't fasted but what I'm experiencing at the moment is not as horrendous as I had heard it could be.
I'd be particularly interested to hear whether people have tried different lengths of time fasting and what difference it makes? It does at the moment feel a bit daunting to do the whole thing again in my 'good' week, but if I continue to make progress well now, and put the weight back on, I think I'll give it another try.
I'm having 6 x EC at three weekly intervals. 5 to go!
Hope this is helpful to others.
Hi ladies, I love my food, but having read some research, and reports back from members,I went on a liquid diet for the day before, of and after chemo. Smoothies and soups, with lashings of water and herbal tea. I am now on a mainly vegetarian diet as I am E+ve. So no hormone fed protein for the last couple of months , or farmed fish either . Also, almond milk and yoghurt. As Pam says, there is some good research around this subject . The nurses at my local Maggies are supportive of this diet, but my consultant would like me to eat a 'balanced diet" in case I do not get enough nutrients to counteract weight loss and support the immune system. I feel very good on this diet , and have enjoyed experimenting with recipes. This disease has certainly changed my lifestyle for the better. X
low carb/fasting diet seems to work for me. My SE's are bearable - after the first couple of cycles, it's easier to cope with SE's as you know what to expect. First cycle, I fasted 3 days around infusion day - low carbs, no dairy, miso soup or broth, fruit tea, and had homeopathic tabs for sickness, gut upsets etc. The theory is that normal cells, because they are deprived of normal levels of nutrients , stop reproducing and go into maintenance mode. Chemo goes for faster reproducing cells, ie the tumours and leaves the normal cells largely alone, so protecting them from the side effects of the drugs. By second cycle I was on ketogenic diet - better for me than fasting - cells use fats for energy rather than carbs - low carbs, no sugar, high fat etc. lots of websites if you're interested and some very interesting research showing ketogenic diet protects normal cells during chemo and enhances chemo effect..
Lots of salad, green veg, avocado, eggs, meat protein, nuts, coconut and olive oil, some berries. This suits me as I don't have a sweet tooth - though you can have a little 85% dark choc!! - and I'm type 2 diabetic so it helps me control my blood sugar. I've even found some recipes online for keto bread, gluten free etc - the texture of bread/cake was the one thing I missed.
It might not work for everyone, but I think it works for me. The foods I'm allowed on the diet are ones I enjoy so it helps keep the nutrient levels up so I keep eating - not always easy with a sore mouth!
Check out some of the ref's further back down this thread. There is some good research to back it up now. I think it's the usual story with our chemo teams - if they don't understand it, they just say no!
Best of luck! Pam x
What were your results from fasting, I am due to start my first chemo on Friday and after reading positive results from fasting I am going to give it a go.
Thanks for the replies everyone. Have been reading up on Valter Longo etc - the physiology behind it makes good sense to me. Am going to try as it won't be much different from my usual diet so quite do-able for me.
David, I hope you make good progress thru all those procedures. Will let you all know if the fasting makes a difference.
Wishing everyone a good week.
Newgrandma, Thank you for sharing your background. Even if you get few replies, we are interested in your progress. Please continue to post here as you continue your treatment and recovery. As for me, I'm doing liver surgery in two days, then radiation treatments to shrink the primary rectal tumor, then surgery to resect the rectal tumor, then finally fasting and chemotherapy a final time. The fasting is supposed to protect normal cells while making it more difficult for cancer cells to reproduce. It is also supposed to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. That's a lot of good things from a simple action, fasting. It's supported by the 2008 and 2012 papers discussed elsewhere on this and other cancer support sites.
I would read everything by Valter Longo. I find fasting very easy but I was doing it long before all of this started. I usually eat just once a day 4 or 5 times a week and now I am eating twice a day just in case my body needs extra nutrition/calories to repair itself.
I should never have got cancer if leading a healthy lifestyle is supposed to keep it at bay. Then I think would I have been worse if I was not fussy about diet and excercise.
Hi everyone, very interested in your comments and this thread.
I'm 70, usually very active, tennis, pilates tai chi etc and happily retired to country. Dx type 2 diabetic last Nov which is controlled by very low cal diet and exercise. Fish, chicken, local org eggs, loads of above ground veg, fruit only berries and occasional pears, dairy only greek strained yogurt, milk in tea and small amount cheese, mainly sheeps milk. Use olive oil, and coconut. Nuts and nut milk, filtered water. No bread, pasta, rice, processed food, red meat - most of what we do eat is organic. Haven't actually counted cals - just know its very low becos of diet. Take Berberine to help with blood sugar which I monitor every day. At 3 month HbA1c check, GP said " Fantastic - just keep doing whatever it is you're doing". Oh... and glass of prosecco now and then to keep me sane!
This diet really suits me. I have lost 10kg (though not overweight before) and I have felt very well, lots of energy etc THEN - Dx BC in Jan. Still feel well so finding it hard to accept dx of multi focal BC with + nodes and spots in both lungs and spleen. All ER/PR neg, one tumour HER2 +, another HER2 neg. Seems like the full set!! I've taken additional supplements since my BC dx, mainly vits, some minerals and CoQ10, astragulus, green tea etc. Would like to keep taking most of those though I suspect I will get told 'no supplements' - seems like its safer to say NO when they don't know the answer to the question.
I am due to start docetaxel, x 6, Herceptin and Pertuzumab next week before mx in the summer and would love to keep SEs to a minimum so I can keep up some semblence of a normal life. Do you think the above type diet will qualify for the fasting type regime or do I need to reduce still further for the few days around infusion? I don't think I would have a problem cutting anything out if necessary. In some ways, the diabetes dx was a blessing as I've been starving the b...... bc of sugar etc for the last 3 months and am probably as healthy as I could be to face the chemo. Would be grateful for any comments/ advice .
Thanks in anticipation and good luck, wherever you are in your treatment. Pam x
Thanks for your reply. I decided that not eating anything was a bit severe for me so had 500 calories 2days before and on my chemo day which seems to have worked well. The side effects were certainly less than I was expecting.
I will certainly contiue to fast perhaps restricting my intake a bit more next time.
My chemo was on Friday morning and I had my last meal on Tuesday evening and nothing but water or black tea/coffee until Saturday morning. I should say that I am not new to fasting and I have done alternate day fasting for years. Not a struggle for me but if you are not used to it I don't know how you would feel.
Thanks for your comment. Ive been following a ketogenic diet through my chemo (which I have just finished today!!!). I have been measuring whether I've been in ketosis and making sure that, whilst the chemo drugs were in my body I was in ketosis to protect my normal cells and relaxing a bit in between cycles once the chemo drugs were out. I made sure I was back in ketosis in time for each cycle of chemo starting the high fat diet about 48 hours before each cycle so doing what you look like you're going to do but with keto diet rather than fasting. I've suffered no side effects at all during chemo. I've researched this a lot in the last couple of years, as my mother also has cancer, and there is a lot out there particularly if you look at dr Colin champ and Patricia Daly who are involved with the research. Although, as you say it is virtually impossible to get big trials due to there being no money in nutrition! Fasting is another option with similar effects but ketogenic diet is said to produce the same effects but you can still eat!
So I think we're talking along similar lines! Anyway hope your treatment goes well and your fasting works for you.
All the best
There is very little research, since big pharma can't make a profit from ketosis or fasting, but I do believe that intermittent fasting during chemotherapy, with normal eating at other times, may be superior to being in ketosis at all times. I'm not sure about this, but it is something to consider. You want to starve cancer cells so that they will eventually die, while not damaging normal cells.
Ali, be sure to monitor your blood glucose closely, and reduce your diabetes medicine during your fasting to keep your BG normal. This is especially important if you are on insulin.
"...and began fasting for the chemo last time and became like this but the chemo was put off due to low white cells."
I'm not a doctor or nurse, but I'm surprised that fasting for just a day or two would lower your WBC count. Are you sure it wasn't the chemotherapy that lowered your WBC count?
I am about to start my chemo and would like to try fasting. Can you tell me what you ate and drank on your fasting days.
I have rectal cancer, not breast cancer, but thought I would offer some information here about fasting (I'm planning to fast starting on my next cycle, which will be 5 on FOLFOX chemotherapy, if my onc allows it).
Specifically, if you want to snack a little while you are fasting, don't eat chocolate or other foods with carbohydrates. Focus on protein-rich foods because protein raises the blood sugar slower and for a longer time than starch or sugar. This should add to the stress on cancer cells as they try to divide without enough nutrition.
Also, if you start 48 hours or more before your chemotherapy, you may have time to get your metabolism into ketosis, which may or may not be an additional aid (nobody knows, as no research has been done on ketosis and cancer). To do this quickly, start with protein then add lots of fat and/or oil. Read websites about ketosis so that you will understand it before you start.
Fasting and intermittent fasting has some research behind it; ketosis is an unknown so far. Always research these before you propose them to your onc, so you will be knowledgeable and because this concept may be new to them.
Best of luck and lots of love to us all!
Andrea, I dont think fasting shouold make you feel so ill/ - I like to drink the OXO cubes in boiling water or Marmite. I use the fasting to help with nausea and sickness rather than the cancer killing properties. I avoid all dairy, carbs and all the nice crisps, snacks and chocolate. I also stopped all caffeine based drinks but think this gave me a headache during treatment!
Not sure if this helps....
Im struggling with fasting but hanging in there, Its not that I am too hungry I just feel very weak and ill nausea etc. not feeling good at all.
I began with one day of protien then am following with 48 hours of no food but am having grean tea and flavoured water..today which is the second day of fast I felt so exhausted and ill that I ate a hard boiled egg and an hour later I feel a little better, not sure if its a coincidence
I would have stuck it out but my OH pointed out that I look so ill white and awful that if I turn up for chemo tommorow morning they may refuse to go ahead and since I have already had to be put back due to low white cells I thought I had to do something.
I beleive it is the fasting that is causing me problems as I began fasting for the chemo last time and became like this but the chemo was put off due to low white cells.
Has anyone else had this problem please?
Blueash, my experience was the same as yours--fatigue and low blood count, but no nausea, mouth sores, etc.
Wow, Blueash. That's really impressive and certainly provides an incentive to do it properly. I've been fine with water, tea and coffee since yesterday midday and just had a mug of miso soup. I'll report back how tomorrow goes (well, more importantly how the following few days go).
I am finished my chemo now and I fasted for all of them (2 days before and a day after). I had no tummy upset, no sickness and no mouth or throat sores. I did still get the fatigue and my blood counts still went low but all in all I had very little in the way of side effects compared to others.
I am day 4 FEC now, and to be honest feeling ok nausea wise, used the Emend and Ondastetron and that is it. The fasting has changed to wholemeal toast & marmite, fruit and sugar free jelly particularly bananas.
I do love a chippy chips wholemeal sarnie!
I will def be doing it again next time!
I'm doing this too. First round of EC tomorrow (Monday) and I'll have fasted for 45 hours (was supposed to be 48, but we had a lie-in yesterday so had brunch). I'm ok with not eating for that period, and I'm hoping to hold off eating until Tuesday evening. Although I realise that it will be dependent on how it goes.
I've looked at all the research, and while I realise that there's more to be done, it seems unlikely that it will do any harm. I'll admit I'm interested in fasting generally, there's lots of evidence on diabetes reversal out there. I suspect that's it's also attractive because it allows for some element of control. Like lots of people almost the worse thing about this is the loss of autonomy.
Anyway I'll let you know how it goes re side effects etc.
I thought I would join you, will be starting FEC-T a week today, and would like to try all sorts of alternatives that could help. I have *mentioned* various 'alternative' and complimentary treatments I would like to do alongside the medical mode but so far very little support from my team. Even though I am a HCP myself and practice a lot of these in my day to day work (am an acupuncturist as well).
Am really interested in this fasting.
All the best to all
early days for you so I hope you are doing ok I felt like death for the first 3/4 days and gradually improved after that and feel more human now apart from a steriod blip Im recovering from.... anyway
Yes I have read the study it sounds very positive indeed did you do water only for 48 hours prior. I know some people have veg water, etc? just curious on how you found it and how dizzy or tired you felt?
Im definatley going to do it just a bit nervous about getting woozy if I try for an extra day.
Hope its a good day
I have just read some research info about fasting and found this thread so find it really interesting to hear what everyone else is doing.
Only learned about it today and doing lots of research so hopefully by my 2nd chemo which is 30th december fec I should be able to take part in some fasting though Im not as yet sure what exactly might be best way to do it.
Any tips as to links to different ways would be helpful, from what I have read it does seem worthwhile and what is a few days no food or extremely limited food if it protects blood cells and makes the cancer more vulnerable to the chemo..this chemo is horrible stuff so if I can get more value from it then Im certainly up for a bit of fasting.
Forgot to say, now I've completed my 3 cycles of EC, I'll also be having weekly chemo from 8th Dec (9 weeks of paclitaxel) so will just pretty much stay in ketosis all the time. I find it very easy to do and the added bonus is that I've lost some weight with it too! Anyway, whether you look into this or stick with the fasting, I hope it all goes well for you.
Hi Helen, An alternative to fasting that you might find interesting is a ketogenic diet. This puts your body into ketosis, as would happen when fasting (but you can still eat!) which is supposed to enhance the effect of the chemo on the cancer cells but protect normal cells from the effect of chemo. Hopefully the link below will work which explains it well. It's written by Dr Colin Champ who is an American radiation oncologist involved in the research re effect of fasting and ketogenic diets on breast cancer and its treatment. An example of a very simple ketogenic diet is to look at the induction phase of the original Atkins.
i make sure I'm in ketosis the day of chemo (it takes me about 48 hours to get into it) and then I make sure I stay in ketosis for 48 hours after at which time I hope the chemo drugs have passed through my system. I've not suffered with any side effects - no nausea, mouth problems or anything else so far and I've recently completed my 3rd cycle of EC.
I did just a water fast. If you look at the research by Valter Longo, he fasted his rats and put them back in the cage with food as soon as the chemo was given. He did not fast them after. If you are up to it I would experiment with a 48 hour fast before for definate and try for 12 hours or so after. If that works you might try to eat a few hours after chemo.
Hi guys my name is Helen and I am about to start chemo and very committed to fasting as everything I have read makes huge sense to me. But like so many others in this thread have found, the medical community in the UK have yet to really engage with the idea. I have two questions and I would be so grateful if anyone could share their thoughts.
Does it improve the effectivenes of the fast if you eat nothing at all vs having very restricted calories (or do we simply not know that yet).
I am doing chemo weekly so is the general view that 48 hours before the treatment and 24 afterwards is the right balance. I am prepared to do whatever I need to do but 4 days a week of fasting (if I go to 72 hours before and 24 afterwards) feels very hard core for the next three months.
Much appreciated and as I am new to this forum I just want to say wow. You women are so strong and so amazing.
Rubber band girl,
i am taking Dexamethasone as well. I have just ignored the "with food" part of the instructions. It has worked well for me. I only take water while I'm fasting.
You don't need to eat nothing for the fasting, just massively restrict your calorie intake, so you could always just eat a very small amount of vegetables with your pills?