Time-restricted eating may slow cancer growth
Obesity is a known risk factor for cancer, so reducing caloric intake is one recommendation to help prevent tumors. A new study now finds that it may be less about how many calories you consume and more about when you eat your meals.
Research in mouse models shows that time-restricted eating MAY be effective for cancer prevention.
Recent research has emphasized the link between obesity and an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers. The risk of breast cancer for example is particularly high in women who are overweight and are postmenopausal. For this reason, some women may be advised to adopt various weight loss strategies to prevent the development of tumors.
Now, a new study suggests that rather than changing what we eat to prevent cancers, a person may benefit from simply timing their meals differently.
In a study from the University of California in San Diego presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, researchers conducted their study in mouse models and found that time-restricted eating could arrest tumor growth. Additionally they may have found some mechanisms that may explain the link between obesity and cancer.
Time restriction vs. calorie restriction
Time-restricted eating requires a person to have all of their daily meals within a specific window of time each day. This approach, the researchers suggest, could have a more positive effect on metabolic health than simple calorie restriction. In this, the team conducted their research using female mice with no ovaries to simulate postmenopausal conditions. The researchers split their study into multiple phases. In the first stage, the researchers induced obesity by feeding the mice a 60-percent high-fat diet for 10 weeks. They then gave one group of mice unrestricted 24-hour access to food, while the other group had their access to food restricted to the 8-hour window during which they were the most active (for mice, this occurs at night). All of the mice also received injections with breast cancer cells for 3 weeks after the start of the study. Growth of cancerous tumors was monitored in each rodent. The researchers also compared the results for the obese mice with findings in a control group of rodents who had received a low-fat diet instead.
AN effective prevention strategy?
In the second phase of the study, the researchers used a group of mice genetically engineered to develop spontaneous breast cancer. One group of these mice where fed an unrestricted diet, while another group received a time-restricted diet. Both groups' diets were high in fat. As before, the researchers monitored tumor growth in each rodent.
The study results revealed that obese mice on time-restricted diets experienced much less tumor growth than mice who ate unrestricted diets. The results for obese mice on time-restricted diets were, in fact, comparable with those of the lean mice who had unrestricted access to food but received low-fat feed.
The research suggests the anti-tumor effect of time-restricted eating may at least in part due to lowering levels of insulin, suggesting this intervention may be effective in breast cancer prevention and therapy.
The lead researcher believes that the current findings may, in the future, lead the way to better prevention strategies for people at risk of cancer.
For more on Time-Restricted eating see this previous article.