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Clinical Trial
. 2018 Apr 27;18(1):476.
doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4353-2.

The Effects of Short-Term Fasting on Quality of Life and Tolerance to Chemotherapy in Patients With Breast and Ovarian Cancer: A Randomized Cross-Over Pilot Study

Free PMC article
Clinical Trial

The Effects of Short-Term Fasting on Quality of Life and Tolerance to Chemotherapy in Patients With Breast and Ovarian Cancer: A Randomized Cross-Over Pilot Study

Stephan P Bauersfeld et al. BMC Cancer. .
Free PMC article


Background: This pilot trial aimed to study the feasibility and effects on quality of life (QOL) and well-being of short-term fasting (STF) during chemotherapy in patients with gynecological cancer.

Methods: In an individually-randomized cross-over trial patients with gynecological cancer, 4 to 6 planned chemotherapy cycles were included. Thirty-four patients were randomized to STF in the first half of chemotherapies followed by normocaloric diet (group A;n = 18) or vice versa (group B;n = 16). Fasting started 36 h before and ended 24 h after chemotherapy (60 h-fasting period). QOL was assessed by the FACIT-measurement system.

Results: The chemotherapy-induced reduction of QOL was less than the Minimally Important Difference (MID; FACT-G = 5) with STF but greater than the MID for non-fasted periods. The mean chemotherapy-induced deterioration of total FACIT-F was 10.4 ± 5.3 for fasted and 27.0 ± 6.3 for non-fasted cycles in group A and 14.1 ± 5.6 for non-fasted and 11.0 ± 5.6 for fasted cycles in group B. There were no serious adverse effects.

Conclusion: STF during chemotherapy is well tolerated and appears to improve QOL and fatigue during chemotherapy. Larger studies should prove the effect of STF as an adjunct to chemotherapy.

Trial registration: This trial was registered at NCT01954836 .

Keywords: Breast cancer; Chemotherapy; Fasting; Ovarian cancer; Pilot study; Quality of life.

Conflict of interest statement

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Charité-University Medical Center, Berlin EA4/088/13. All study participants gave their written informed consent.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Study flow chart
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
a: Pretest values at cycles (C1-C6) in FACIT-F(FS), FACIT-F, FACIT-F TOI, FACT-G, and Total FACIT-F, Group A, Day 0. b: Pretest values at cycles (C1-C6) FACIT-F(FS), FACIT-F, FACIT-F TOI, FACT-G, and Total FACIT-F Group B, Day 0
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
FACT-G Forest plot of mean difference. a) Group A (pretest – day 8, cycles c1-c3 = fasting). b) Group B (pretest – day 8 (cycles c1-c3 = normocaloric). c) Group B (pretest(c4) – day 8, cycles c4-c6 = fasting) and d) Group A (pretest(c4) – day 8, cycles c4-c6 = normocaloric)

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