Cutting down the daily calorie intake can help fight breast cancer, a new study says. Latest research on triple-negative breast cancer found dietary restriction highly effective in preventing breast cancer metastasis.
Metastasis is a term used to describe spread of a deadly cancer from its original site to other parts of the body - mainly bones, lungs and liver. Metastasis occurs in nearly 6 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer cases and in most of the cases, it gets detected only after completing the cancer treatment. The condition requires lifelong treatment with chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiation and surgery, according to experts.
Breast cancer cells testing negative for oestrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR) and HER2 are termed as triple-negative breast cancer. It is not caused by the hormones oestrogen or progesterone. So tamoxifen (hormonal therapy) or Herceptin (therapy that target HER2 receptors) are less effective in treating this type of cancer. Around 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancers are triple-negative, according to breastcancer.org.
During the study, Nicole Simone and colleagues from the Thomas Jefferson University in the US imposed some food restrictions on mice having triple-negative breast cancer. Eating 30 percent less than the normal diet was associated with a decrease in the production of microRNAs 17 and 20 (miR 17/20), which have long been linked to spreading of triple negative cancers.
"The diet turned on a epigenetic program that protected mice from metastatic disease," senior author Simone, an associate professor in the department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, said in a news release.
Though, majority of the patients who undergo hormone therapy and chemotherapy gain weight due to their altered metabolism, according to the experts, being overweight can make breast cancer treatments less effective and lead to poor treatment outcomes. Apart from that, the same researchers have found calorie restriction improving tumour eradicating ability of radiation therapy. Through their new study, Simone and team wanted to identify the molecular pathways that helped this occurrence.
"Calorie restriction promotes epigenetic changes in the breast tissue that keep the extracellular matrix strong," Dr. Simone, explained. "A strong matrix creates a sort of cage around the tumor, making it more difficult for cancer cells to escape and spread to new sites in the body."
Similar to the current study, scientists have found treatments with peach extract inhibiting breast cancer metastasis.
Findings of the study have been reported in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
Calorie restriction has been known to play a huge role in various aspects of health. Previous studies have shown dietary restrictions improving life expectancy and slowing down ageing process.