Autophagy is Greek for “to eat one self”.
No, not a form of cannibalism.
A form of cellular rejuvenation where old components are digested.
Housekeeping for our cells.
Autophagy is turned on during fasting, like overnight while you are sleeping. Longer fasting extends autophagy.
While the study of autophagy in humans is fairly recent (the 1960’s) it holds promise in the understanding of disease progression.
Autophagy is a counterbalance to the aging process.
Normal cells have evolved to survive autophagy whereas cancer cells are unable to adapt to this style of housekeeping.
In a recent study, it was shown that postmenopausal women over 50 reduced their risk of breast cancer if they lost weight. Adipose tissue produces estrogen which feeds certain types of breast cancers so losing fat can only help. Perhaps reducing caloric intake or fasting boosts autophagy and cleans out cancerous cells before they take root.
In my own example I lost 20 pounds since my breast cancer 10 years ago. It has been work to keep it off. So far so good with my checkups the past 10 years considering I was given a 20% chance of recurrent cancer within 5 years.
Interestingly enough, 10 years ago I was given no information that my diet or weight could affect my chances of remaining cancer free. I have lived long enough to remind my doctors that my diet and lifestyle changes did make a difference. I hope they are passing on this import self-care information to their current patients.
So here’s to autophagy! Lose a little weight and maybe live longer:)