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Fasting intermittently reduces cell proliferation, a marker for cancer risk, study finds

As expected, the researchers found that mice on the 33 percent reduced calorie diet exhibited significantly decreased proliferation rates for skin, breast and T (lymphocyte) cells. The greatest effect was seen after one month on the regimen, when proliferation of skin cells registered only 61 percent of that for mice fed freely.

The surprising finding came with the results of the more modest 5 percent reduced calorie diet that was fed intermittently. Mice in this group had skin cell division rates that were 81 percent of those for mice fed freely.

In all cases, division rates for breast cells were reduced the most. Mice with the lowest calorie diet had breast cell proliferation results that were only 11 percent of those for the control group mice, and mice fed intermittently had results that were 37 percent of those for the control group.

The researchers said this may be partly related to the reduction in estrogen, which stimulates breast cell division. Tests revealed that the estrus cycle stopped for mice on the lowest calorie diet. The mice fed intermittently, on the other hand, continued to cycle regularly.

Results of the refeeding trials indicated that any weight lost during the calorie restriction period was regained once a normal feeding pattern was resumed.

"Overall, we found that the effects of the diet regimens were rapid and reversible, with cell division rates and weight going back to normal after refeeding," said Hsieh. "Although it's too early to say whether similar results would be seen in humans, this study at least provides some hope that another option to severe calorie reduction exists."

"A five percent reduction in calories would be the equivalent of reducing about 100 calories a day in a human diet," said Hellerstein. In other words, for the mice, intermittent feeding seemed to provide similar gain with a bit less pain than a more restrictive diet.

Hellerstein noted that animals in t
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
15-Mar-2005


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