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THERAPEUTIC FASTING AND CANCER PREVENTION

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It is well documented that DER reduces the incidence of both inherited and acquired cancers in experimental animals (33, 43–48). Evidence also indicates that DER can reduce the incidence of several human cancers (49, 50). However, a 40% DER in rodents is comparable to water-only therapeutic fasting or to very low caloric diets (500–600 kcal/day) in humans (40). This is due to differences in the basal metabolic rate, which is about seven times less in humans than in mice (Chapter 17). Consequently, DER is tolerated better and is more effective in preventing cancer in humans than in mice. The implementation of periodic DER, which targets multiple cancer-provoking factors, can be a simple and cost-effective lifestyle change that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer. Humans have evolved to function for prolonged periods in the absence of food. Herbert Shelton described how most adults in good general health can function normally after fasting (water only) for as long as 30–40 days (51). While total food abstinence for this long might seem impossible to many people, the evidence presented showing that this is possible is quite compelling. George Cahill and Oliver Owen have also shown that many overweight people could be fasted for prolonged periods (months) without adverse effects (52). Owen and Cahill were also the first to show that ketone bodies become the major fuel for the brain during periods of starvation (53). “Danjiki” is the Japanese term for therapeutic fasting and is known to produce numerous health benefits including prevention of cancer. Humans are capable of conducting prolonged fasts without harm. It is important to mention that therapeutic fasting is not the same as starvation. Although the terms fasting and starvation are often used interchangeably, they represent different physiological states. Starvation is a pathological state where the body suffers from energy imbalance and is deprived of key minerals and vitamins necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis. Fasting, on the other hand, is therapeutic and maintains metabolic homeostasis. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in liver and body fat, and are released slowly during fasting. Minerals are stored in the bones and are also released slowly during fasting. Only the watersoluble vitamins C and B-complex vitamins would require supplementation after a 10–14-day fast. Periodic therapeutic fasting is extremely healthy for the body. Although weight loss will occur following therapeutic fasting, the weight loss associated with fasting is natural and nontoxic. Fasting-associated weight loss contrasts markedly with chemotherapy-associated weight loss, which is unnatural and often linked to toxic poisoning.

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