Reducing calories appears to improve the success of
Valuable new data on how caloric intake may play a role in programmed
cancer cell death and better results from targeted cancer therapies
By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
Aug. 21, 2013 – It there is a way to make cancer
treatment more successful, most senior citizens will listen. They have
watched too many close friends and relatives suffer and die from the
ravages of cancer. A study out today, however, offers some hope that we
can make cancer treatment more successful. The researchers have
discovered that restricting calories for a defined period of time
appears to improve the success of cancer treatment.
They say it is valuable new data on how caloric
intake may play a role in programmed cancer cell death and efficacy of
targeted cancer therapies.
Study results were published online
Blood, the Journal of the
American Society of Hematology
While previous studies suggest a connection between
caloric intake and the development of cancer, scientific evidence about
the effect of caloric intake on the efficacy of cancer treatment has
been rather limited to date. When humans and animals consume calories,
the body metabolizes food to produce energy and assist in the building
When fewer calories are consumed, the amount of
nutrients available to the body’s cells is reduced, slowing the
metabolic process and limiting the function of some proteins. These
characteristics of calorie restriction have led researchers to
hypothesize that reducing caloric intake could potentially help inhibit
the overexpression of the protein Mcl-1, an alteration associated with
Evidence mounts of link between
healthy diets, less calories and defeating cancer
Aug. 21, 2013 –
Related to a study released today showing that cancer treatment is more
successful if combined with consuming fewer calories, is a growing
number of studies showing that diet is also very important in preventing
cancer. One of these is a study released on August 16 reporting that people who most closely
follow healthy eating guidelines may have a lower risk of pancreatic cancer– probably the most feared cancer and certainly the most
“While we know that consuming excess calories is
associated with increased cancer risk, far less clarity exists in the
scientific literature about how calorie restriction and the body’s
metabolism can potentially affect the body’s response to cancer
treatment,” said lead study author Jean-Ehrland Ricci, PhD, of the
French Institute for Health and Medical Research in Nice, France.
“By understanding the link between metabolism and
the body’s natural cancer suppressors and activators, we can perhaps
improve the efficacy of therapy and improve survival for patients
suffering from specific types of cancer.”
To better understand how calorie restriction might
control the overexpression of Mcl-1 in certain cancers and consequently
affect treatment efficacy, Dr. Ricci and a team of researchers conducted
a series of experiments in mice developing lymphoma resembling Burkitt’s
lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, two human cancers of the
white blood cells.
The team began by separating the mice into two
categories: those who would receive a regular diet and those who would
receive a reduced-calorie diet (75 percent of normal intake) for the
duration of the experiment.
After the mice consumed either a regular or a
reduced-calorie diet for one week, researchers then further divided the
mice into four groups according to the treatment they would receive for
the following 10 days. Of the two groups of mice that received a normal
diet, one (the control group) did not receive treatment and the other
received treatment with an experimental targeted therapy, ABT-737,
designed to induce cancer cell death.
Of the two groups of mice who received a
reduced-calorie diet, one did not receive treatment and the other
received ABT-737. On day 17 of the experiment, both treatment and
calorie restriction ended, and mice had access to as much food as they
Following this exercise, investigators observed
that neither treatment with ABT-737 nor calorie restriction alone
increased the survival of mice over that of the other mice; however, the
combination of ABT-737 and calorie restriction did. Median survival was
30 days in the control group that received a regular diet and no
treatment, 33 days in mice that received a regular diet and treatment
with ABT-737, 30 days in mice that received a reduced-calorie diet
without treatment, and 41 days in mice that received a reduced-calorie
diet and treatment with ABT-737.
Shortly after this experimental period,
investigators also observed that the combination of calorie restriction
and ABT-737 reduced the number of circulating lymphoma cells in the
mice, suggesting that the combination sensitized the lymphoma cells to
To further test their observations, researchers
conducted several additional laboratory-based analyses, confirming that
the cancer-related activity of Mcl-1 had decreased. Next, researchers
combined two calorie-restriction mimetics (chemical compounds known to
mimic the activity of calorie restriction), 2-deoxy-glucose and
lonidamine, with lymphoma cells from the mice and ABT-737 and examined
The team observed that the combination of the
calorie-restriction mimetics and ABT-737 successfully blocked the
protein translation of Mcl-1, confirming their observations that calorie
restriction had indeed led to decreased Mcl-1 expression and had
sensitized lymphoma cells to treatment.
“The results of our investigation provide
encouraging data that suggest that the combination of a defined period
of calorie restriction and targeted therapy may have the potential to
increase cancer survival,” said Dr. Ricci.
“This is just the beginning of our journey to bring
these research findings to the clinical setting. We next want to examine
what component of a reduced-calorie diet – fats, sugars, or another food
compound – influenced the lymphoma cells’ improved sensitivity to
the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field of hematology, is
available weekly in print and online. Blood is the official
journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org),
the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and
treatment of blood disorders.
This report is based on information
provided by the American Society of Hematology.
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