The research results of blood vessel cells' ability to repair and re-grow damaged tissues and organs were discussed at a recent conference, "Ansary Stem Cell Symposium: Is Regenerative Medicine Ready for Prime Time?".
"The results suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," said Tanya Dorff, a co-author of the research published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
The study reveals those fasting for a few days can regenerate their entire immune system as it creates new white blood cells critical for battling infection.
"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," states Valter Longo, corresponding author of the study and a professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology.
While there have been studies stating that fasting is not a good thing, in this case it can prove beneficial, say the researchers given the immune system is not healthy either due to age or chemotherapy.
"While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," states a release on the study.
The fasting, whether for two or four days, drives the human body into a "survival" mode in which it begins using up stores of sugar and fat and also breaks down old cells.
"With a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system," Longo said.
But fasting shouldn't be something done often and deserves further research, states the report.
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