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Health

Intermittent fasting protects against liver inflammation, cancer: study

May 16, 2024 9:22 PM IST

Health | Intermittent Fasting | Inflammation | Liver cancer

Fatty liver disease, often leading to chronic liver inflammation and potentially liver cancer, is a significant health concern. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) and the University of Tubingen have discovered in mice that intermittent fasting, particularly on a 5:2 schedule, can halt this progression.

Fasting appears to reduce the development of liver cancer in mice already experiencing liver inflammation. Scientists identified two proteins in liver cells responsible for this positive outcome. Additionally, they found that an approved medication can partially replicate the effects of fasting.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is prevalent worldwide, with obesity being a significant risk factor. The rise in obesity rates, especially in countries like India and China, is contributing to an increase in liver-related illnesses.

The researchers investigated whether dietary changes, specifically intermittent fasting, could interrupt the cycle of unhealthy diets, obesity, liver inflammation, and cancer. Intermittent fasting has shown effectiveness in weight loss and managing metabolic disorders in previous studies.

In experiments with mice fed a high-sugar and high-fat diet resembling a Western diet, those on a 5:2 intermittent fasting regimen showed resistance to liver disease development, despite the high-calorie intake. Interestingly, this resistance wasn’t tied to overall calorie intake.

Further experiments revealed that the timing and frequency of fasting cycles influence protection against liver inflammation. Molecular analysis identified two key players, PPARa and PCK1, responsible for the protective effects of fasting.

Testing in mice with MASH showed that the 5:2 fasting regimen not only prevented liver disease but also reduced existing chronic inflammation and liver cancer development. This suggests potential benefits for both prevention and treatment.

The 5:2 fasting approach is gaining popularity due to its flexibility and ease of integration into daily life. However, the researchers recognize that not everyone can adhere to strict diets long-term. They aim to explore combinations of drugs to mimic the protective effects of fasting fully.

These findings highlight the potential of intermittent fasting as a preventive and therapeutic strategy for liver inflammation and cancer.

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Last updated on: 25th May 2024