But after a successful clinical trial which saw a reduced risk of cancer spreading from one breast to another, scientists are considering whether a low calorie diet is effective at cancer prevention.
The study was conducted by the Thomas Jefferson University and used mice models to find out how diet affects the migration of cancer to other organs.
It found that when mice were given 30% fewer calories, changes occurred in the body in the way cells were regulated, reported The Telegraph. "Those on restricted diets produced more protective proteins in the tissues around the tumour, which make it harder for cancer to spread."
Medscape Medical news interviewed Rainer Klement, MD, a radiation oncologist at the University Hospital of Würzburg in Germany who commented: "During the past 10 years or so, interest in the metabolism of cancer cells has seen a dramatic increase, which is surely why interest in dietary interventions...has increased."
"The time is definitely ripe to test the various ways of altering cancer patients' metabolism — be it through physical exercise, ketogenic diets, fasting, or calorie restriction."
At present, the largest ever study into cancer and diet is ongoing. "The study, called EPIC, involves 500,000 people in 10 countries. EPIC stands for European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Over many years, the researchers are recording people's food intake, monitoring their health records, and noting who gets cancer and who doesn't. Then they may be able to link certain factors in the diet with the risk of getting particular cancers," said Cancer Research UK.