Intermittent Fasting Shows Potential Antitumor Role in Endometrial Cancer


Wesley Burkett, MD, discusses a preclinical study of dietary intervention for patients with endometrial cancer.

Wesley Burkett, MD, a fellow in gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, discusses a preclinical study of dietary intervention for patients with endometrial cancer.

Obesity is known to be a driving factor in endometrial cancer, and strict dietary restrictions can improve outcomes for patients. However, some weight loss regimens are not tolerated well by patients who have received surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.

According to Burkett, intermittent fasting or intermittent energy restriction (IER) has been tolerated better than other dietary interventions and has shown antitumorigenic effects in disease types such as breast cancer but has not been studied in endometrial cancer.

He says a preclinical study using a mouse model compared changing a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet or an IER diet. The IER diet was found to lead to lower body weights and a reduction in tumor incidence and size. In addition, investigators compared pro-inflammatory cytokines and found that mice given IER had cytokine levels comparable with non-obese mice or those on a lower-fat diet. This research could lead to investigation into how IER interacts with cytotoxic treatment and the value to IER in human patients.


0:08 | There is a different type of dietary intervention called intermittent fasting or…IER. And it appears in some other studies to be better tolerated by patients. It has well established antitumorigenic effects in other types of cancers such as breast cancer. It hasn't quite been studied in endometrial cancer yet, so we investigated that in our mouse model.

We compared the dietary intervention, whether it be changing from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet versus high-fat diet to a IER diet.

What we found was that the IER diet resulted in lower body weights of the mice, less tumor incidence, and the size of the tumor was also less. We also looked at several different pro-inflammatory cytokines, which were consistent with the mice that received the IER diet. Their pro-inflammatory cytokine panel appeared consistent with, or more closely related to a non-obese mice or low-fat diet mice, compared to mice that were switched from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet.

1:36 | This is a very early study. The next steps we're going to be investigating is using this type of dietary intervention while treating mice with cytotoxic therapy. Like I mentioned, there has been some preclinical and clinical studies in breast cancer that looked at this with promising results. And so, we're hoping that we'll see how this translates to endometrial cancer.

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