Does Fasting Help or Harm Cancer Patients? - John Doe's Story
“The cases that keep me restless at night - too much of a good thing may be a bad thing, strive for the Economy of Balance."
John was a loving husband, father, and remarkable engineer who recently died of metastatic pancreatic cancer after a tough 14-month battle. Pancreatic cancer is increasing in incidence and now is the third leading cause of cancer death with a median survival of typically nine months. John presented with the typical digestive symptoms, and workup showed early regional spread prompting upfront chemotherapy and SBRT (focal high dose radiation) to enable surgical resection. He responded initially, but in the period, leading to surgery, new metastasis were found in his liver. He then underwent second-course chemotherapy and combined it with an off label veterinary anti-parasite medication. He had good response based on his tumor marker CA 19 –9. Unfortunately, this response was temporary, and he proceeded to a local university in southern Florida to access a newly released lipophilic irinotecan during formulation for pancreatic cancer.
I met John at this point in his care as he was a childhood friend of one of my bulletproof coaching colleagues. John was interested in the metabolic protocol that Care Oncology offers to patients along with their local standard of care therapies. John was truly amazing in his regimented engineering approach and escalating understanding of the metabolic oncology literature. He started the new chemotherapy and metabolic protocol, and although things were stable for a few months, the chemotherapy was harh for him to tolerate. The tumor marker stayed about the same and did not dramatically regress or progress. He then looked at other protocols but dramatically stepped up the "full court press" using fasting, additional supplements, and CBD/cannabis. In addition, the new strategy included adding high-dose vitamin C and hyperbaric oxygen twice weekly. His superhuman efforts were costly in time and money, and unfortunately his tumor marker continued to gallop almost as if all these efforts accelerated his tumor growth. Most pancreatic cancers are K-ras mutated and thus metabolically more flexible. Ultimately, John became severely cachectic and had to stop everything and passed away with hospice two weeks later.
John and I were in constant communication as I raised concerns that maybe he was pushing his body too hard and exceeding it's tolerance and recovery capacity. His course would not raise eyebrows with oncologists observing the usual pancreatic cancer pattern; however, I continued to seek out questions and concerns of what we could've done differently. Do too many hermetic impacts like what John used above potentially overrun the body's recovery systems in the background of metastatic cancer? Can a metastatic multiply recurrent cancer usurp autophagy function and thus fasting and other stressors favor the tumor biology over the normal tissue health? I've since had another patient with metastatic colorectal cancer looking like he is going down the same path, having pushed too hard and now has galloping cancer progression. Hopefully, this literature inquiry will help us better understand this complex interplay between our body's immune function and cancer cell control.