To fast, or not to fast before chemotherapy, that is the question

BMC Cancer. 2018 Mar 27;18(1):337. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4245-5.


Fasting in disease prevention and treatment has recently become a popular topic, particularly in the context of oncology. Unfortunately, the growing attention paid by the media has created a background of speculations and ambiguous messages. The attitude towards the role of fasting in cancer patients should be very cautious, as the risk of malnutrition/sarcopenia and disinformation may be associated with this approach. Whether the results obtained by fasting in the cellular and animal models can be transferred to cancer patients is still to be ascertained. At the moment, more preclinical studies are required to determine in which cancers, at which stage, and in what combinations fasting, fasting-mimicking diets or caloric restriction mimetics may prove effective. So, despite the "rumors" of marketing and media, nowadays fasting and calorie restriction around CT represent only a promising intuition, which requires proper efforts and time to be validated by evidence-based clinical data.

Keywords: Calorie restriction; Chemotherapy; Fasting; Malnutrition; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Fasting / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents