Could intermittent fasting reduce breast cancer risk in obesity?

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NEW research finds that time-restricted feeding improves insulin levels and reduces tumor growth in mice with obesity-driven postmenopausal breast cancer. The study found that tumor growth was driven and accelerated by elevated insulin levels in the mice.

It also found that lowering the mice’s insulin levels and improving their metabolic health had an anti-tumor effect. “Time-restricted eating has a positive effect on metabolic health and does not trigger the hunger and irritability that is associated with long-term fasting or calorie restriction,” says Dr. Manasi Das, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California (UC), San Diego and first author.

“Through its beneficial metabolic effects, time-restricted eating may also provide an inexpensive, easy to adopt but effective strategy to prevent and inhibit breast cancer without requiring a change in diet or physical activity.” The study — conducted by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) — appears in Nature Communications.

Having overweight or obesity increases the risk of developing at least 13 types of cancer.
More research is necessary, but obesity seems to disrupt circadian rhythms, the body’s internal clocks that control 24-hour rhythms in gene expression and daily behaviors.
When the body’s circadian rhythms are thrown off, it can change how the body responds to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. These changes can cause a person to become insulin resistant or develop metabolic syndrome, both of which may increase the risk of developing some chronic diseases, such as cancer.

Circadian clock disruptions also appear to promote tumor growth by interfering with the cell cycle and activity of cells that suppress tumor growth.
Recent research has found that there seems to be an especially strong connection between obesity and breast cancer.

The impact of obesity on breast cancer is extremely complex, and it is still being investigated. However, several factors seem to contribute to how obesity impacts the risk of developing breast cancer.

Of these potential influencing factors, menopausal status seems to be especially important. Research shows that obesity consistently raises the risk of breast cancer, and the chance of poor outcomes, in postmenopausal women.