A fast-mimicking diet could be more effective in treating some cancers when combined with vitamin C, according to a new research published in Nature Communications.

Fasting remains a challenging option for patients with cancer, according to the study; however, a low-calorie, plant-based diet is a safer, more feasible option. This diet causes the cells to react as if the body was fasting. Combined with vitamin C, this diet has the potential to replace more toxic cancer treatments. 

The studies were conducted on mouse models of colorectal cancer. The researchers found that the combination of a fast-mimicking diet and vitamin C delayed tumor progression in some models and caused disease regression in some cases. Although prior research on the benefits of vitamin C in fighting cancer has yielded mixed results, researchers wanted to see whether the tumor-fighting properties of vitamin C could be enhanced by a fast-mimicking diet and create an environment unsuitable for cancer cells but safe for normal cells.

Researchers found that both a fast-mimicking diet and vitamin C reduced cancer on its own, according to the press release. When used individually, both methods caused a minor increase in cancer cell death; however, researchers said that when used together, almost all cancerous cells were killed. The results were only seen in the KRAS mutation, which occurs in approximately 25% of all human cancers and up to 50% in all colorectal cancers. KRAS mutation is regarded as one of the most challenging in cancer research, according to the study. 

"In this study, we observed how fasting-mimicking diet cycles are able to increase the effect of pharmacological doses of vitamin C against KRAS-mutated cancers. This occurs through the regulation of the levels of iron and of the molecular mechanisms involved in oxidative stress. The results particularly pointed to a gene that regulates iron levels: heme-oxygenase-1,” Maira Di Tano, study co-author, of the IFOM, FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, Italy, said in the press release. 

The study authors said that cancer will eventually be treated with low-toxicity drugs in a manner similar to how antibiotics are used, according to the press release.

Reference:
A combo of fasting plus vitamin C is effective for hard-to-treat cancers, study shows (Press release), Los Angeles, CA, May 12, 2020, ScienceDaily, accessed July 28, 2020