The relationship between autophagy and cancer and the science about their interactions is complex and there is still much to be learned, to say the least.
However, there is still a lot we do know about autophagy and cancer.
As cancer continues to be the the second leading cause of death in the US behind heart disease, we are learning more about the role that autophagy plays in carcinogenesis (cancer formation) and tumorigenesis (tumor formation).
In this article, we’re going to look at autophagy and cancer, how autophagy provides powerful cancer protection, and how autophagy can also promote cancer cell survival in some cases.
Related: The Autophagy Stack is formulated based on clinical studies to start autophagy today. Learn more.
How Autophagy and Cancer Work
For those who may not be familiar with it, autophagy is a cellular “cleaning” process.
As your cells work and operate, they create waste and their parts break down.
Autophagy allows your cells to remove or recycle those damaged parts into new proteins and amino acids that they can use for fuel or to repair themselves.
Autophagy has been shown to begin when your cells are depleted of nutrients, like during fasting.
Nutrient depletion causes stress, which signals to your cells to begin autophagy or to induce cell suicide, called apoptosis.
This cell turnover and cell “cleaning” has been shown to have a number of very healthy benefits, including:
- Promoting longer life
- Protection from neurodegenerative diseases
- Reducing inflammation
- Protection from bacterial infections
- Promotes a healthy heart, especially in aging hearts
- Promotes lipid metabolism (fat burning)
There is also very good evidence that autophagy is anti-cancer.
Evidence that Autophagy Fights Cancer
One of the most interesting and attractive characteristics with autophagy and cancer is that autophagy appears to protect against the development of cancer.
How does it work?
In liver cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer worldwide, autophagy has been shown to promote liver health and stop carcinogenesis in the liver.
Now, here is where, when it comes to autophagy and cancer, it starts to get a little confusing.
Because autophagy provides benefits for all cells in the body, there are some studies that show autophagy can actually help cancer cells survive.
Specifically, autophagy can help dormant cancer cells continue to live on.
The cancer cells benefit from the cell cleaning and improved cell turnover rate, just like normal healthy cells.
But it depends on the type of cancer cells.
What Science Tells Us About the Other Side of Autophagy and Cancer
However, once a tumor has formed, autophagy may or may not actually help the tumors survive.
For example, one of the most powerful features that tumor cells have is the ability to activate autophagy and survive. What the tumors do is essentially go dormant. They allow autophagy to essentially “eat” away at them until it stops. Once it does, the tumors begin cell proliferation again.
In fact, with breast cancer, autophagy inhibition was shown to cause breast cancer cell death. The way this works is that less autophagy causes dormant cancer cells to accumulate damaged cell parts and commit cell suicide.
However, with lung cancer, autophagy was shown to actually increase the effectiveness of cancer therapies like chemotherapy. The idea here is that the stress required to induce autophagy, i.e. fasting, makes the cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and increases its potency against them.
Getting Specific About Autophagy and Cancer
But remember, autophagy is one of the hottest topics in health and science right now.
What we are learning is that autophagy is a complicated and multi-faceted process. There are many pathways that get activated during autophagy.
So while the entire process of autophagy may end up benefiting dormant cancer cells, we can manipulate some of these “sub processes” to get even more protection from cancer and autophagy.
Furthermore, there are certain plant nutrients that activate these specific, beneficial autophagy pathways that are the subject of ongoing research.
Cancer and Autophagy Stack
We certainly do not claim that the Autophagy Stack is a cure or even a preventative device for cancer.
However, there is good evidence that the ingredients inside the Autophagy Stack do possess anti-cancer properties.
For anyone interested in autophagy and cancer, the Autophagy Stack has been developed to help you replicate the conditions found in the studies we linked above.
Specifically, this study from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and this study from the Center de Recherche des Cordeliers in Paris were influential in our decision to choose the ingredients in the Autophagy Stack.
If you’d like to learn more about the Autophagy Stack, just click here to go to the product page.
How to Induce Autophagy
If you’re interested in learning how to start autophagy, you can begin it today very easily.
As we mentioned above, autophagy has been shown to start under stressful conditions, especially nutrient depletion.
Therefore, many people have adopted a diet that allows them fast for longer periods of time.
While there are many diets that promote caloric restriction, the one that has been studied in the context of autophagy is called intermittent fasting.
This isn’t a diet, per say, in that you don’t reduce the amount of calories you eat.
It’s more of an eating schedule. You can eat whatever you want. However, you only eat during certain periods of the day.
Perhaps the most popular form of intermittent fasting is where you eat during an 8 hours period and then fast for the other 16 hours of the day.
For example, if you started eating at 11 in the morning, you would eat until 7pm that night. After that, you would fast until 11am the next day.
You continue to eat what you usually do. You just limit the hours of the day in which you eat those calories.
This model allows your body to experience nutrient deprivation and induce autophagy. However, you don’t have to avoid certain foods that you like.
Before you begin any sort of diet or eating plan, make sure you talk with your doctor.
If you have any questions, we’re always here to help. Feel free to email us or chat us here on our website. We’d love to talk with you about your questions.