Cancer treatments may include nutritional strategies

Cancer treatments may include nutritional strategies

Photo: 1) Maria Blasco, CNIO Director 2) Nabil Goder, CNIO 3) Nuria Malats, CNIO, 4) Rafael de Cabo (National Institutes of Health, EEUU) 5) Valter Longo (Institute for Molecular Oncology, Italy; Longevity Institute, University of Southern California, EEUU). 6) Yasmine Belkaid (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, EEUU).
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credit: CNIO

  • A conference on diet and cancer brings together international leaders in the field at CNIO, researching topics including the impact of obesity, foods like meat and alcohol, and the importance of the time of day they are eaten.
  • Today it is clear that dietary habits underlie many of the most common types of tumors, particularly hormone-dependent breast or prostate cancer and the gastrointestinal tract.
  • We’ve been studying strategies that mimic fasting to fight cancer for years, and they’ve had good results. We are now moving to the stage where oncologists start to consider using it in combination with standard treatments,” says Walter Longo, one of the pioneers in the field.

Researchers are increasingly finding that diet plays an important role in the development of cancer, and are also exploring what is considered a “paradigm shift”: working on nutrition “not just for cancer prevention, but as a therapeutic intervention,” he says. Marcus Malum and Nabil Joder Researchers at the National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO) and organizers of the International Conference on Diet and Cancer to be held this week at CNIO in collaboration with Fundación La Caixa.

It’s not about treating cancer through diet, it’s about supplementing the treatment with careful nutritional strategies. As Gooder and Mallomes stated, “It is very likely that new nutrition-based therapies will be incorporated into standard cancer therapies.”

One of the strategies researchers are researching extensively at the moment is intermittent fasting, which was discussed at the conference by Rafael de Cabo (National Institutes of Health, USA) and Walter Longo (Institute of Molecular Oncology, Italy; Institute of Longevity, University of Southern California, USA).

We’ve been studying strategies that mimic fasting to fight cancer for years, and they’ve had good results. We’re now moving to the point where oncologists are starting to consider using it in combination with standard treatments,” Longo says. “The interesting thing is that it appears to work for very different types of cancer and in combination with different treatments.” So it appears to be a very promising approach.”

longevity diet

in his book longevity diet, Longo advocates the use of intermittent fasting to prevent disease and to supplement cancer treatments.

Research is already showing what happens in cells during fasting, and why this might help stop tumors. “Cancer cells do not know how to stop their cycle, they are constantly on. On the other hand, healthy cells, if you cut off their energy supply, they automatically stop all the processes of division.” Since chemotherapy primarily targets the cells that proliferate, if given while the patient is fasting, its toxicity will primarily affect the cancer cells, and the dose may be increased.

Alejo EvianHead of the Cell Metabolism and Signaling Group at CNIO, he also highlights the therapeutic potential of nutrition: “Diet, the genes that cause overeating and obesity, are closely linked to cancer. We can try to treat and prevent cancer through nutrition strategies, altering diet, and the functions of the genes involved. But we still have a lot to learn to do it effectively.”

Monitor populations with long lifespans and low rates of cancer; studies with animal models to understand what is happening at the molecular level; And highly controlled clinical trials are the kinds of studies that have shown, over the years, the close relationship between diet and cancer.

How a bad diet can contribute to cancer

“The body puts in a great deal of metabolic effort into processing nutrients and storing the products derived from them, from which we get energy,” explains Djouder and Malumes. “Changing or forcing this process in the wrong direction for years and years creates stressful situations in cells that cause some of them to become tumorigenic and possibly, along with other factors, contribute to tumor progression.”

Which is why, according to these researchers, “For most of the population, Living habits such as nutrition play a bigger role than genetics, at least in modern societies. Today it is clear that dietary habits underlie many of the most common types of tumors, especially gastrointestinal cancer and hormone-dependent breast or prostate cancer.

harmful obesity

One of the recommendations around which there is complete consensus is that obesity negatively affects cancer. The researchers do not refer to any particular food ingredient as harmful, but in general to the overconsumption of any food group: “In modern societies, there are examples of excesses of each: carbohydrates – the most common excess – fats, and proteins,” the regulators say.

As for the best diet to prevent cancer, the advice is: eat more fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and lower levels of fat and red meat, processed foods, and alcohol.

What is not understood in depth is the reason for these facts. for example, Red meat: Statistically, its consumption is associated with cancer; But the difficult thing is to know exactly why, whether it is related to amino acids, hormones or parasites.”

Microbiome Care

Another area of ​​great importance is the microbiome, that is, the group of microorganisms that literally populate our entire body. Yasmine Belkaid (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, USA), a pioneer in his study, points out the role of the microbiome in inflammation, and its effect on cancer through this phenomenon.

“Our diet influences the composition and diversity of our intestinal flora, the so-called intestinal flora, which can change with certain foods,” Gooder notes. “Changes in the gut microbiota can cause generalized inflammation or the production of harmful metabolites, which influence the development of many diseases, including cancer.”

Determining a “good diet” for healthy microbes is “complicated,” she adds. As a general recommendation, “a varied diet can be essential medicine to maintain the proper functioning of the intestinal flora.”

Diet and cancer

The conference also addresses the problem at the population level. Marina Polan (ISCIII National Center for Epidemiology), Nuria Malats (CNIO) and Aurora Perez Cornago (University of Oxford, UK) Studies linking lifestyle habits, including nutrition, and cancer will be discussed. Malats, an expert in pancreatic cancer, focuses on ” A complex relationship between diabetes, obesity and pancreatic cancerand how genetics and the microbiome might explain part of this association.”

The other participants are tak mac (Princess Margaret Cancer Center, UHN, Toronto); Robin Nogueras (University of Santiago de Compostela); Louis Vagas (Centre for Integrative Genomics, Switzerland); Matthew Vander Heyden (Coach Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT, USA); Karen Vosden (Francis Crick Institute, London); And the M. Celeste Simon (Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania, USA).

a program: 1310182_355/58_pdf3.pdf (

Amplifiers: PowerPoint presentation (

Online research discussion on nutrition and cancer: Oct 27, 7 p.m.

After the CNIO-CaixaResearch Frontiers meeting, you can watch the CaixaResearch discussion on Nutrition and Cancer: The Importance of Prevention, a webinar open to the public. It will be on October 27th at 7pm CET. Marcos Mallomes and Marina Pollan will participate, and the discussion will be moderated by Nuria Jarre. You can register to watch this free webinar by clicking on this link:

About CNIO

National Cancer Research Center (CNIO ) is a Spanish institution dedicated to the research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, managed by the scientist Maria Blasco. CNIO, for the third time in a row, has been certified as the Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence. Ranked 7th among the best cancer research centers in the world (according to Scimago Report; Nature Index) and was awarded the title of the leading cancer research center in Europe.

Contact Section

National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), 91732 8000

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