Diet 'can make a difference to cancer survival'
Article date: 27 May 2014
The restriction of a cancer patient's calories could prove to be crucial in helping them fend off the disease, according to a new study.
Researchers have presented evidence to suggest that a woman's chances of surviving breast cancer could be improved by decreasing their food intake by a certain percentage.
Details of the hypothesis were published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment yesterday (May 26th), explaining how one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer - the triple negative subtype - had a smaller risk of spreading to new parts of the body when subjects were kept on a restricted diet.
Often, patients are treated by being administered with a dual approach of hormonal therapy and steroids. The former is used to block the growth of any tumours, while the latter is included in a treatment plan to balance the side-effects of chemotherapy.
However, both of these can sometimes result in the alteration of the recipient's metabolic rate, resulting in them gaining weight.
This impact has been studied in further detail, with experts coming to the conclusion that too much weight can make standard methods of treating breast cancer less effective. On this basis, it was decided that the effect of losing weight should be investigated to see if the opposite also applied.
To look into the matter further, scientists used animal models - feeding them 30 per cent less than they would normally have access to. The researchers observed the cancer cells reacted by reducing the amount of microRNA 17 and 20 they produced - something that is normally increased when the tumours tend to spread.
Dr Nicole Simone, lead author of the study, said: "Calorie restriction promotes epigenetic changes in the breast tissue that keep the extracellular matrix strong.
"A strong matrix creates a sort of cage around the tumor, making it more difficult for cancer cells to escape and spread to new sites in the body."
Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in the UK. According to official figures, around 48,000 women are diagnosed with it every year.