Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fellow experimental faster - and cancer survivor - says diet made her feel better

So far my experience of periodic fasting has been extremely positive. Others have found it more difficult, as I reported here, although they were in the minority during the USC trial.

Nora Quinn, another study volunteer, tells me that she throughly enjoyed the experience and that fasting made her feel physically better.

"I loved the food," she says.

Quinn was one of the participants in the study, which involved three periods of fasting for 5 consecutive days, during which only low calorie food, supplied by USC scientists, was allowed.  See earlier blogs for details.

"I kept trying to buy it. The honey and nut bar is way too good.  I would eat way too many of those if I had access to them generally.  I thought the soups were terrific," says Quinn.

Quinn adds that she felt physically better while fasting.

"Now that I am out of the trial I try to continue to do fasting. I try to mimic the foods."

Like me, Quinn said he experienced a greater sense of mental alertness while fasting.

"I have more energy and I'm more cognitively alert,' she says.

Quinn, who describes herself as “aggressive and bold" says she was amused by some of the social implications of fasting.

"I find this so funny because there are people who I work with who will say, 'Oh, you're fasting that's not healthy - you can't just not eat anything.’  I will say, 'Well I can. I've done it before and I will do it again. And they'll be standing there eating donuts, telling me how unhealthy it is to fast.'

'I want to say look at yourself - how can you possibly say that what I'm doing is unhealthy?'

Quinn, an administrative judge in Los Angeles is a cancer survivor.  She is convinced that an earlier period of fasting, before and during a course of chemotherapy, helped her make a good recovery from breast cancer.

After reading about the work of Valter Longo she took it on herself to fast just before starting chemotherapy.  Without medical advice, which is certainly not to be recommended, she devised a fasting plan that roughly mimicked regimes which had been tested with mice. At that stage, there had been no human trials, but Quinn believes fasting helped alleviate the negative side-effects of chemo and contributed towards her recovery.  Her story is told at greater length in Michael Mosely’s book, the Fast Diet.

The beneficial effects of fasting during cancer treatment are the subject of ongoing studies, involving human trials. According to a research published in the journal Oncogene, in 2011, an intense period of calorie restriction, for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, has the potential to reduce the adverse side-effects of the treatment and improve survival rates.