A low-fat diet may help increase the cancer survival rate of obese children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, a study claims. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the United States administered the chemotherapy drug vincristine to obese and non-obese mice with leukemia.
They discovered that if they switched the obese mice from a high-fat to a low-diet straightaway before starting chemotherapy, the mice had a dramatically improved outcome. The mice on the low-diet had a 5 times higher survival rate than the mice within the high-fat diet cluster, the study revealed in the journal Cancer & Metabolism found.
“The most exciting thing to me concerning this study is that the indisputable fact that this shows that a dietary intervention could potentially help us kill leukemia cells in children with acute lymphocytic leukemia,” said Steven Mittelman from UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. “The current treatments for leukemia are terribly harmful, therefore finding the simplest way to use a healthy diet, without increasing the toxicity of therapy to treat folks with cancer, would be unimaginable,” Mittelman said. This analysis builds on past work by Mittelman that found that obesity made chemotherapy drugs much less effective in children with leukemia.
After chemotherapy, obese children with leukemia relapse 50 % additional typically than their lean counterparts. Recent studies have also found that one in three children with acute lymphocytic leukemia was overweight or obese at diagnosing. Acute lymphocytic leukemia could be a cancer of the humor line of blood cells characterized by the development of large numbers of immature lymphocytes.
“During past research, the question that continually came up was, is this one thing you'll reverse and may we tend to be golf shot our children on a diet? So we decided to test that in the mice,” Mittelman said. The mice that were switched to a low-fat diet had a dramatically improved survival rate of 92 %, while the mice on the high-fat diet had a 17 % survival rate, researchers said.
“There are very few things in life you can do for one month that may have such a tremendous potential benefit, especially for your child who has cancer,” said Jonathan Tucci from the University of Southern California. The research team has begun to move its research to human trials at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The team has started a pilot study that tests the ability of a focused diet and activity intervention to reduce fat gain during chemotherapy for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and to potentially improve survival rates.