Cancer cells acquire distinct metabolic preferences based on their tissue of origin, genetic alterations and degree of interaction with systemic hormones and metabolites. These adaptations support the increased nutrient demand required for increased growth and proliferation. Diet is the major source of nutrients for tumours, yet dietary interventions lack robust evidence and are rarely prescribed by clinicians for the treatment of cancer. Well-controlled diet studies in patients with cancer are rare, and existing studies have been limited by nonspecific enrolment criteria that inappropriately grouped together subjects with disparate tumour and host metabolic profiles. This imprecision may have masked the efficacy of the intervention for appropriate candidates. Here, we review the metabolic alterations and key vulnerabilities that occur across multiple types of cancer. We describe how these vulnerabilities could potentially be targeted using dietary therapies including energy or macronutrient restriction and intermittent fasting regimens. We also discuss recent trials that highlight how dietary strategies may be combined with pharmacological therapies to treat some cancers, potentially ushering a path towards precision nutrition for cancer.
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