A low fat diet might slow the growth of tumours

In May, retired toolmaker Rolf Sulzle, living a reasonably healthy life, was shocked when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and given three months to live.

Cancer killed his mother, brothers and sisters.

His wife and a colleague were the first to notice the symptoms.

“It’s a change I didn’t see,” he says. These changes included strange behavior, distance and unresponsiveness.

Was it depression?

His doctor thought Rolf might be depressed.

“Until a scan showed a large tumor on the left side of my brain,” he says.

Surgery removed 99% of the tumor. Chemotherapy targets remaining cancer cells. It’s all about buying time.

“They told me that if I had gone a few more weeks without treatment, I would have died,” he says.

Rolf takes care of his wife, Julie, who has a severe autoimmune disease. His main concern is to keep her alive as long as he can take care of her.

new discovery

As part of his bid for overtime, Rolfe, 65, is following a low-fat diet. He is careful to avoid saturated fat and fried foods.

why? A new study found that certain cancers cannot grow without lipids (fats) found in various foods such as butter and ice cream.

Dr. Daniel Thomas with patient Rolf Sulzle. Photo: SAHMRI

Until now, it was thought that diet had no effect on tumors.

However, the study shows that cancers with IDH1 gene mutations, including Rolf’s brain cancer, “stop progressing when they are deprived of lipids.”


Mutations in the IDH1 gene are ‘troubling mutations’ that reprogram cells, leading to blood cancers, acute myeloid leukemia, bone cancers called chondrosarcomas, bile duct cancers, and low-grade gliomas (brain cancer). ) are commonly found.

A new study led by Dr. Danielle Thomas, a clinical hematologist and pathologist at the South Australian Institute of Health and Medical Research (SAHMRI), finds a ‘hidden weakness in IDH1 cancers that can be exploited to cure patients’ .

In a SAHMRI statement, Dr. Thomas said:

“We replicated the results in different cancer types by comparing a normal diet to a completely fat-free diet. I was surprised to find that it stopped.

“Unlike other tumors, cancers with IDH1 mutations are lipid-addicted, you have to eat them, you have to make them from scratch.”

What this means for Rolf Sulzle

“Although much more work needs to be done to substantiate our findings in humans long-term, people with IDH1-mutant cancers like Rolf are being cautious by avoiding foods high in saturated fat. Research suggests that,” said Dr. Thomas. .

And it’s Christmas now, but Rolf is still here.

“The advice given so far is to live each day like it’s your last,” he says.

“If paying more attention to my diet could give me a little more time, I would definitely do it.”

Final Words from Researchers

Dr. Thomas said the findings could ultimately lead to increased survival for patients in remission after treatment of IDH1 cancer using proton therapy or radiotherapy.

“We are rapidly learning that every little thing is important in achieving remission and improving survival without excessive chemotherapy,” he said.

This study is a collaboration of SAHMRI, University of Adelaide and Stanford University.

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