LAB REPORT

Fasting can fight cancer; diet in pregnancy linked to obesity

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 April, 2015, 6:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 April, 2015, 6:06am

Fasting can help fight cancer

Fasting in combination with a less-toxic class of drugs has shown in mice to kill breast, colorectal and lung cancer cells, in two new studies led by the University of Southern California. Cancer cells burn much more glucose (sugar) from food than a regular cell to fuel their rapid growth. Deprived of glucose, cancer cells rely on an emergency backup in the form of an enzyme called a kinase. The study found that this metabolic shift by cancer cells causes them to generate toxic-free radicals, which ultimately kills them. In addition, the kinase pathway for generating energy can be blocked by kinase inhibitors - much less toxic than chemotherapy - further choking off cancer cells' ability to generate energy. If shown to work in humans, the researchers say this combination could replace chemotherapy.

Pregnancy diet linked to fat children

Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation may prime offspring for weight gain and obesity later in life, according to a new study published in the Journal of Physiology. Previous research has shown the periods of pregnancy and lactation are important in the development of the neurocircuits that are linked with how the stomach and intestine work to regulate how much we eat. In this study, Penn State College of Medicine researchers fed one group of rats a high-fat diet during pregnancy and lactation. Their offspring were fed the same diet after weaning. When the offspring reached adolescence, it was found that parts of the neurocircuits were compromised even before obesity set in.

Exercisers can breathe easy in Denmark

It's better to exercise than be sedentary, even when the air is bad, according to University of Copenhagen scientists. Their study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives used data from 52,061 subjects, aged 50 to 65 years, from the two main cities, Aarhus and Copenhagen. From 1993-97, the subjects reported on their physical leisure activities. The researchers then estimated air pollution levels from traffic at their residential addresses. Following up on the subjects in 2010, there were about 20 per cent fewer deaths among those who exercised than among those who didn't exercise, even for those who lived in the most polluted areas, in central Copenhagen and Aarhus, or close to busy roads and highways. The researchers note that these results pertain to Denmark and sites with similar air pollution levels, and may not necessarily be true in cities with several fold higher air pollution levels.