Letter No 2 of the Professor Henri Joyeux – 25th of March 2014

Many of you have probably come across numerous TV or radio shows demonstrating that fasting could be useful or even necessary to reduce a number of lifestyle diseases. These shows commonly make the case that the side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients can be mitigated through fasting. This claim is not without merit.

My team and I watched the 56’11 of the excellent show entitled “Le jeûne, une nouvelle thérapie ?” (Fasting, a new therapy ?”) authored by Sylvie Gilman and Thierry de Lestrade and broadcasted on French TV channel Arte France via Decouvertes Productions 2012. We recommend this show our most skeptical colleagues.

Let us summarize the facts:

Fasting is useful to reduce many lifestyle diseases , i.e. diseases brought about by personal habits: obesity, type II diabetes, arterial hypertension, rheumatoid diseases, skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis. It also reduces risks of some respiratory diseases (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) and all types of allergies, any kind of addictions be they due to tobacco or drugs such as marijuana, or even stress of any origin… Conversely, it means that bad nutritional habits, following what advertisements advocate, are responsible for these diseases, depending on each person’s own sensibility. In this case we talk of the influence of epigenetics.

We must draw a clear distinction between genetics and epigenetics. To make sure you understand us properly, know that practically all of us are carrier of the gene(s) that can induce a lung cancer, but that these genes only express themselves only with the heavy smoker or the passive – or secondhand – smoker. It works the same way for most cancer locations. Most modern research in oncology demonstrate the importance of nutritional habits, good or bad, that assist or prevent the development of a cancer, in some tissue or organ of our body.

As our Russian and German colleagues tell us in the above-mentioned show, fasting can also be useful to reduce recurrent troubles involved in psychiatric diseases. It should systematically be advised to patients, under medical supervision. However, for this to happen, psychiatrists should be trained in the advantages of changing nutritional habits. Such is the case for many medical specialties, from pediatrics to geriatrics through cardiology, pneumology, rheumatology, gynecology, surgery, neurology… all these medical specialties would gain in opening up to therapy through fasting. 

We are far from it, but we must not be discouraged. Patients themselves teach it to their doctor, or at the very least sensitize them to it. 

It is certain that fasting that medical teams propose to patients in medical care centers in Russia as well as in Germany at the Büchinger Institute or at the Charité Hospital in Berlin is useful to patients’ health recovery when practiced from one to three weeks. That is what some call “sanogenesis”.

Total Fasting

Of course, this is a total fasting, with pure water. It consists in water drinking only, without nutrition throughout the fasting period, while remaining under medical supervision.  

The body thus draws upon its reserves in sugar, that are mostly located in the liver and a little in the muscles. These are drained within two to four days. Following, the body draws upon reserves in fat, which must be transformed into ketones bodies in order to reach the central nervous system (encephalon or brain, cerebellum and spinal cord) that need energy in order to function. 

For this reason, the fourth day can be difficult because of the “ketonism” or “acidosis crisis” that are responsible for weakness, nausea and migraines. One has to know about this delicate step to have the courage and persevere into it.

Three Months of Fat Tissue Reserves

Our reserves in fat, what is referred to as fat tissue, are located under the skin. These fats, found mostly in the abdomen, are called visceral fats. They can sustain us up to three months, but of course by slimming down considerably. 

If the fasting patient perseveres beyond two or three days, he enters a lightly euphoric phase, which is sedating. This is accompanied with a sort of intellectual or even spiritual appetite, whatever the patient’s beliefs are. This is the very positive mental effect of fasting. This total nutritional restriction must be accompanied with some daily outdoor physical activity, if possible. Therefore, it is beneficial to do the fasting outside of one’s daily environment, while making it compatible with medical supervision, especially for the most fragile patients.  

This type of fasting requires a medical follow-up by a coach, nutritionist or medical specialist. For these reasons, it has to be performed in a specialized center. 

This is certainly the most natural means to reduce body fat and blood pressure. It also helps reduce one’s need to take habitual medication such as antalgics or anti-inflammatories used to treat rheumatoid diseases, allergies and asthma, or sugars-reducing drugs used to treat type II diabetes, all of which are generally being prescribed in excess.This is certainly the most natural means to reduce body fat and blood pressure. It also helps reduce one’s need to take habitual medication such as antalgics or anti-inflammatories used to treat rheumatoid diseases, allergies and asthma, or sugars-reducing drugs used to treat type II diabetes, all of which are generally being prescribed in excess.

Fasting to Better Bear Abusive Chemo ?

Studies accomplished by our colleagues at the Norris Cancer Hospital of Los Angeles, and applied on little animals by Professor Valter Longo are particularly interesting. Repeated a few times, they demonstrate and confirm that important caloric restriction on animals submitted to chemotherapy allows these animals to better bear treatments, while the group of animals that is fed normally is doing much worse. These studies need to be analyzed in a more scientific manner before being applied in cancerology in the daily life of the many patients that we encounter. 

Indeed, cancerous cells and more generally the cancerous tissue or tumor must be considered as robbers of the best nutrients. For examples, if you ingest vitamin C in high doses that you bought in pharmacy, and in fruits and vegetables, the tumor will take for itself the “good vitamin C”, the one of fruits and vegetables, and will leave to you the one from the tablets, which is only bioavailable up to 50% after the rest is eliminated in the urine. 

This is the reason we are so prudent with therapeutic fasting when it comes to bearing chemo

In cancerology, « partial fasting » is essential and can only be beneficial. 

First, it is made compulsory by the fact that the drugs involved in chemotherapy or targeted therapies all affect the digestive system and the whole body generally. Nausea is so common that specific treatments are added to the drugs IV or to the drugs patients consume orally. That is meant to avoid vomiting, more than just nausea.

Moreover, many chemo drugs kill intestinal cells, which usually live no more than 5 days. This triggers an abrasion of the “rug” of intestinal cells called enterocytes, which in turn impedes intestinal absorption of nutrients and causes diarrhea, slimming down and fatigue.

Therefore, in this context you want to be fasting of all nutrients that could weaken your immune response. That includes drinks containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in Equal, NutraSweet), or white bread (which is often bleached) that will act on your body as an excess in sugar and will increase intestinal porosity caused by gluten and chemical baking powder). Such porosity allows some more or less toxic molecules to pass from the gut to the rest of the body, which cause inflammation that will affect weakened zones of your body, especially the ones affected by cancer cells. 

One should also fast from cow dairy products such as cow milk (especially pasteurized), yogurt, cheeses, and ice cream. These products bring too much fats and sugars (lactose) into your body, four times too much calcium, as well as growth factors that are naturally meant for a bigger animal, the calf. Let us not forget that within the first year after his birth, the calf takes 365 kg (over 800 pounds, i.e. 2 pounds a day), while a baby will take approximately 10 pounds in the first year of life. 

This is what we can advise patients fighting cancer. They should also drink abundantly ( at least half a gallon water a day, no soda, coke or other so-called “energy drinks” ) so as to eliminate the metabolites of drugs that are not useful to our health and could actually be toxic for non-cancerous cells. 

In another letter, we will explain how different classical methods of chemotherapy work. They bring mitotic inhibitors to the body that are meant to “kill” all dividing cellules, be they cancer cells or normal body cells

You will understand better why we try to develop the use of « targeted therapies », that target only cancer tissue by subjecting it to growth inhibitors, anti-angiogenic drugs ( that impede on the development of blood vessels that would feed the tumors) or specific antibodies meant to keep the tumor tissue from growing. 

Best regards, 

Professor Henri Joyeux

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