Baylor College of Medicine

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Dawn-to-sunset fasting could help those suffering from metabolic syndrome

Graciela Gutierrez


Houston, TX -

Baylor College of Medicine doctors studying the effects of dawn-to-sunset fasting have found more evidence that when you eat could play a role in supporting cancer-fighting tumor suppressor proteins, specifically in those suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Past studies looked at how this type of fasting affected randomly chosen participants. Those findings showed an increase in protein signatures that could have protective properties against a number of illnesses, some related to metabolic syndrome, including cancers.

“Those findings led us to believe that those who were suffering from metabolic syndrome could have a beneficial outcome after following this type of fasting,” said Dr. Ayse Leyla Mindikoglu, associate professor of medicine and surgery at Baylor.

The current study, published in Scientific Reports, followed 14 people who are suffering from metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions such as high blood sugar, high blood fat,  high blood pressure and excess body fat. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and fatty liver disease. The participants were observing the month of Ramadan, which consists of fasting for four consecutive weeks with no eating or drinking from dawn to sunset, totaling more than 14 hours each day.

Blood samples were taken before fasting, at the conclusion of fasting and, finally, one week after fasting was completed.

"We found a significant increase in the levels of several tumor suppressors and DNA repair gene protein products at the end of the fourth week and one week after fasting ended,” Mindikoglu said. “There was also a significant reduction in the levels of tumor promotor protein products when compared to the week before fasting began.”

As with their past studies, an anti-diabetes proteome response was induced during fasting. There was also an anti-aging proteome response found after fasting had ended.

“There was also a significant reduction in body mass index, waist circumference, and improvement in blood pressure,” Mindikoglu said. “These changes occurred along with the anti-cancer, anti-diabetes and anti-aging response so the findings suggest that intermittent fasting from dawn to sunset actively modulates the respective genes and could be a target for treatment in metabolic syndrome.”

These findings are showing researchers areas to focus on, she said. More studies are needed to test how this type of fasting can be used in the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome-induced cancers such as liver and colon cancer, both have been linked to metabolic syndrome.  

Others who took part in this study include Mustafa M. Abdulsada, Antrix Jain, Prasun K. Jalal, Sridevi Devaraj, Zoe R. Wilhelm, Antone R. Opekun, and Sun Yun Jung, all with Baylor College of Medicine. This project was supported by 2019 Roderick D. MacDonald Research Award/Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Award Number 19RDM001) (to Ayse L. Mindikoglu, M.D., M.P.H.). This project was also supported in part by NIH Public Health Service grant P30DK056338, which funds the Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center and P30CA125123, which funds the Baylor College of Medicine Proteomics Core and its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Cancer Institute or the NIH. This project was also supported in part by Gladys and David Laws Fund.

The full study and additional author affiliations can be found here:


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