Fasting regenerates the immune system and protects the body from cancer damage

I have been teaching and practicing fasting for over 25 years now.  Fasting transformed my health and this is more news showing just how powerful it is. 

Fasting for three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable” and “flipping a regenerative switch”.

For 25 years’ worth of research, study, advice, guidance and experience of fasting; read my first book; Eat Less, Live Long, which specialises in how to fast regularly and intelligently.   

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.  What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting.  Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.  We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration.  It gives the ‘ok’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system.  And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.  If you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.  There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial”
US lead scientist Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology/Alzheimer’s Research/Cancer Research, Biological Sciences and director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute, June 2014.

What has this new research shown yet again about the power of fasting?

  • Fasting for at least two days regenerates immune systems damaged by ageing or cancer treatment
  • Fasting triggers the stem cell-based repair of vital systems in the body
  • Fasting had the effect of culling old and damaged immune system cells and replacing them with fresh and more effective new ones
  • Fasting flipped a switch in haematopoietic bone marrow stem cells causing them to start regenerating themselves
  • Protection against white blood cell loss was also seen in human cancer patients
  • Fasting caused a lower circulating level of a growth-promoting protein, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) , which has been linked to ageing, tumour progression and cancer risk
  • More than 20% of cancer-related deaths are hastened, or even caused, by toxic effects of chemotherapy rather than the cancer itself

“While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system.  The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy”
Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, University of Southern California, June 2014.

Study by Cheng et al “Prolonged Fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression” as published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.  As reported by, United Kingdom news, The New Zealand Herald, and The Telegraph on June 5, 2014.  Also study by Jin L, et al “The metastatic potential of triple-negative breast cancer is decreased via caloric restriction-mediated reduction of miR-17~92 cluster” as published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10549-014-2978-7.


Posted: Thursday 12 June 2014