A new study underway at Philadelphia's Kimmel Cancer Center will look at whether combining radiation breast cancer treatments with a calorie-restricted diet improves outcomes for patients.
It's awful to think that women undergoing the stress of a cancer diagnosis and the discomfort of radiation might have to count calories as well, but that's what earlier research suggests. Mice put on a calorie-restricted diet experience a 30% reduction in tumor size and live much longer than mice that aren't dieting, and caloric restriction has been shown to make cancer cells more susceptible to radiation at the molecular level in mice.
To find out if this diet and breast cancer survival link holds true for humans, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals will enroll women with early-stage breast cancer and place them on a diet of 25% fewer calories than their usual diets at the same time as they're undergoing radiation. The researchers hope to learn whether women are able to stick with a calorie-restricted diet during breast cancer treatments, and whether the diet affects recurrence and overall breast cancer survival.
It's certainly too early to recommend that current breast cancer patients undertake a calorie-restricted diet, but it's worth asking your oncologist about this research.
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