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J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Feb;47(1):13-9.

Caloric restriction and cancer.

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The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


In 1909 Moreschi observed that tumors transplanted into underfed mice did not grow as well as those transplanted into mice fed ad libitum. His finding stimulated a decade of research which showed that caloric restriction also affected negatively the growth of spontaneous tumors. Between 1920 and 1940 little work was done in this area, possibly because of limiting methodology. In the 1940s the laboratories of Tannenbaum (Chicago) and Baumann (Wisconsin) were able to design studies using defined diets and showed that the observed effect was due to caloric content of the diet independently of the source of calories. After another active decade research activity in the calorie-cancer area declined until it was reborn in the 1980s. By the 1980s knowledge of physiology and molecular biology had advanced enough to allow investigators to probe mechanisms underlying the calorie-cancer phenomenon. We now know that caloric expenditure (as work or exercise) will lead to reduced risk. Energy restriction enhances DNA repair and moderates oxidative damage to DNA. Energy restriction reduces oncogene expression as well. Over a half century ago, Boutwell noted that energy restriction in female rats resulted in adrenal hypertrophy and reduced weight of ovaries and uterus. He suggested that energy restriction resulted in "pseudohypophysectomy." We now know that adrenalectomy can negate the effects of caloric restriction. Caloric restriction also affects insulin metabolism and may influence gene expression. These recent observations should help us understand some of the basic mechanisms involved in establishment and proliferation of tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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