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Publication Date



2021 prov rn tx; 2021 prov rn poster; texas; covenant; lubbock


Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Nursing


Background: In the past several decades, remarkable advances in the treatment of cancer have been made. However, a gap remains regarding best practice strategies to reduce the amount of short and long-term side effects and adverse or emergent events related to cancer treatment that may negatively impact patient quality of life. Recent evidence suggests that if patients undergoing cancer treatment fast for a period of time, they may experience reduced chemotherapy-related side effects and enhanced immune potential. Weight loss and malnutrition associated with cancer treatments highlight the importance of evidence appraisal associated with fasting prior to recommending this practice as part of an individualized cancer treatment plan.

Purpose: This review aimed to answer the clinical question: Among patients receiving active cancer treatment, does fasting enhance the immune system, increase efficacy of cancer treatment, and decrease chemotherapy-related side effects?

Methods: This review was created using Whittemore's Methodology of Integrated Research Reviews. A search of the articles using Cochran Library, PubMed, Medline, CINHAL, and Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition was conducted. The key words used to perform the search were: "fasting" AND "immune system" AND "chemotherapy". Search criteria were limited to "free full text articles" between 2015 and 2020 except for PubMed. A total of sixteen articles resulted for review with ten more identified through bibliographic mining. All articles were critically appraised for level and strength of evidence using an evaluative checklist and the EBR (evidence-based readiness) tool.

Results: From the twenty-six unique articles identified, twelve were considered to be appropriate for the scope of this project. Of these twelve articles, two were rated to be level one, one as level two, three as level three, one as level four, and five as level five. All articles used to inform answering the clinical question reported a positive correlation with fasting and the efficacy of chemotherapy agents as well as an enhanced immune system. “Fasting” definitions varied across reviewed literature.

Conclusion: The current integrative literature review suggested that fasting may have a beneficial effect on the immune system and may mitigate adverse side effects associated with chemotherapy. Additionally, some evidence supported that among patients who fasted compared to those who did not, tumor growth was clinically decreased. While this combination of studies offered positive findings, more high-quality clinical research is needed to determine the benefits and potential harms of fasting among patients receiving active cancer treatment. Furthermore, research needs to indicate a clear definition of fasting, including optimal timing and type, before this practice can be effectively recommended in the clinical setting.

Clinical Institute




Conference / Event Name

2021 Providence RN Conference


Virtual Conference

The benefits of fasting for patients who are immunocompromised and undergoing cancer treatment: An integrative research review