Binge Dieting Decreases Breast Cancer Risk in Mice

Mice Benefit from Yo-Yo Dieting Say Researchers

Finally, another mouse study indicated that on-again, off-again dieting may actually prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Mice on the so-called “yo-yo” diet regimen had a 96 percent reduction in cancer, compared to the animals allowed to eat whatever they wanted.

The results were surprising to the researchers who initially believed the effect of this yo-yo pattern would be detrimental (obviously, that’s what any sane person would have assumed).

“This is the way people used to eat,” says study author Margot Cleary, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute in Austin. “For many, many centuries for human beings it was feast or famine. Maybe the body has adapted to that.”

Whether the findings will apply to humans remains to be seen but, if they do, they would add a new twist to what is known about nutrition and disease.

“It’s been well known for decades that chronic food restriction is protective against lots of things, not just cancer, but it was thought the protective effect existed to the degree you restricted calories,” Dr. Cleary explains.

“Our results show that it’s really the manner that you receive these calories that can have a significant effect on what the impact is,” she notes.

You can incorporate “cheat days” into your dieting plan and still lose weight. In fact, that’s the method employed by many bodybuilders and other elite athletes who must stay in top form year around. A once a week cheat day (or cheat meal for the ultra disciplined) goes a long way toward keeping your sanity, plus your body likes it as it does get used to the feast/famine cycle.

If you want to diet, do so with a bit more common sense. Stay on your plan for a day or two, then allow a bit of a cheat day, then back to your plan for another day or two and so forth. This disciplined approach to yo-yo dieting may be just the thing to jump start your weight loss.

By cheat day I mean go ahead and have what you want, but I don’t mean carry home two grocery sacks full of treats and consume them at one sitting. Sane binging is eating half the bag of Hershey’s Kisses, while out-of-control binging is eating that bag, plus three others you bought for Halloween, then having to go back out to restock for the trick-or-treaters.

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