Feasibility, Process, and Effects of Short-Term Calorie Reduction in Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: An Integrative Review

Nutrients. 2020 Sep 15;12(9):2823. doi: 10.3390/nu12092823.


Recent preclinical studies have shown the potential benefits of short-term calorie reduction (SCR) on cancer treatment. In this integrative review, we aimed to identify and synthesize current evidence regarding the feasibility, process, and effects of SCR in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Ovid Medline, PsychINFO, and Embase were searched for original research articles using various combinations of Medical Subject Heading terms. Among the 311 articles identified, seven studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of the reviewed studies were small randomized controlled trials or cohort study with fair quality. The results suggest that SCR is safe and feasible. SCR is typically arranged around the chemotherapy, with the duration ranging from 24 to 96 h. Most studies examined the protective effects of SCR on normal cells during chemotherapy. The evidence supports that SCR had the potential to enhance both the physical and psychological wellbeing of patients during chemotherapy. SCR is a cost-effective intervention with great potential. Future well-controlled studies with sufficient sample sizes are needed to examine the full and long-term effects of SCR and its mechanism of action.

Keywords: calorie restriction; cancer; chemotherapy; fasting; integrative review; short-term calorie reduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caloric Restriction / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Time
  • Treatment Outcome