Research from UCSD gets it WRONG with new diet guideline to prevent/treat breast cancer.

breast cancer and bellyBreast cancer tomogram


UCSD research got it wrong by ignoring a major contributor to increased blood glucose and excess insulin release related to the development of breast cancer.  The missing puzzle piece that makes this research irrelevant is the exclusion of the liver’s involvement in storing and releasing glycogen.

The liver naturally releases glycogen when more than 5 hours pass without eating a limited amount of carbohydrate AND the liver dumps glycogen every 5 hours when we sleep and don’t eat..

Here is the flawed research study, with results that can actually raise the risk of breast cancer:Overnight fasting may reduce breast cancer risk in women: UCSDPosted on April 20, 2015 by Stone Hearth News

 A decrease in the amount of time spent eating and an increase in overnight fasting reduces glucose levels and may reduce the risk of breast cancer among women, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

 The findings were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

“Increasing the duration of overnight fasting could be a novel strategy to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer,” said Catherine Marinac, UC San Diego doctoral candidate and first author on the paper. “This is a simple dietary change that we believe most women can understand and adopt. It may have a big impact on public health without requiring complicated counting of calories or nutrients.”

Women who fasted for longer periods of time overnight had significantly better control over blood glucose concentrations. The data shows that each three hour increase in nighttime fasting was associated with a 4 percent lower postprandial glucose level, regardless of how much women ate.

“The dietary advice for cancer prevention usually focuses on limiting consumption of red meat, alcohol and refined grains while increasing plant-based foods,” said co-author Ruth Patterson, PhD, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center associate director for population sciences and program leader of the cancer prevention program. “New evidence suggests that when and how often people eat can also play a role in cancer risk.”

Women in the study reported eating five times per day with a mean nighttime fasting of 12 hours. Those who reported longer fast durations also indicated they consumed fewer calories per day, ate fewer calories after 10 p.m. and had fewer eating episodes.

Researchers recommend large-scale clinical trials to confirm that nighttime fasting results in favorable changes to biomarkers of glycemic control and breast cancer risk.


Co-authors include Loki Natarajan, Dorothy Sears and Sheri Hartman of UC San Diego; and Linda Gallo and Elva Arredondo of San Diego State University.

And Here is the Whole Story:

This article worries me as it is pointing women in the wrong direction regarding the prevention and treatment of breast cancer

Women with a propensity for developing breast cancer (estrogen positive or negative) have a greater chance of having underlying excess insulin production.

metabolic syndrome

Most of the women who develop breast cancer have the genes for or have already developed “metabolic syndrome”;  a compilation of medical conditions including:  (increasing midline fat or “belly fat”, overweight,  high insulin levels, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, hypertension, progressively rising blood glucose, history of irregular periods, PCOS, or heavy menstrual periods.  They are at a higher risk than women without metabolic syndrome to develop breast cancer.  Those with metabolic syndrome ARE over- insulin producers.

Insulin is a fat gain hormone that, in excess, increases fat deposits on the body, between the organs, in the liver, and circulating in the blood in the form of cholesterol and triglycerides.  Over producing this fat gain hormone means:  excess fat and roller- coastering blood glucose levels.

I’m sorry to have to explain the following to researchers at UCSD, but apparently they missed a few classes in anatomy and physiology.

Excess release of insulin happens to those with uncontrolled metabolic syndrome:  A natural rise in blood glucose after carbohydrate ingestion AND  a natural rise in blood glucose from  the natural release of  glycogen from the liver  between meals and while we sleep.

Yes, blood sugar rises from carbohydrate foods AND from waiting too long to consume even a limited amount of carbohydrate.

Excess insulin release due to excessive carbohydrate ingestion:

healthy carbs


junk-foods-300x200  Both pictures represent carbohdyrates! 

Excess intake of carbohydrate foods like milk, yogurt, fruit, fruit juice, soft drinks, sweets, desserts, cookies, ice cream, grains, rice, pasta, bread and bread products, potatoes, legumes like chick peas and lentils, beets, snack foods, pizza, tacos shells, burritos, Chinese take- out, etc. digests and converts into high levels of  blood glucose.  When the brain senses a rise in blood glucose from carbohydrate ingestion, it signals the pancreas to release insulin.  Insulin should be released in the right amount to match the rise in blood glucose and act like a key to open muscle and fat cells to store any excess blood glucose.

In the case of a person with metabolic syndrome…EXCESS insulin is released and too many fat cells are opened.  The blood glucose enters an excessive number of opened fat cells ultimately leaving blood glucose lower than normal.  The brain signals the person to eat more carb to bring blood glucose back to normal. (The brain runs efficiently on normal levels of blood glucose )

If the person has more carbohydrate grams (another slice of pizza, another scoop or two of ice cream), the blood glucose rises again…but the pancreas once again over-responds with insulin.  Too many fat cells are opened, blood glucose drops lower than normal, and the cycle begins again.

Carbohydrates have a 4-5 hour lifespan.  At the end of 5 hours, the carb grams have been digested and absorbed, blood glucose rises, insulin is released, and blood sugar should normalize.  (As noted above, those with metabolic syndrome make too much insulin; excess fat cells are filled and the circulating blood sugar is left low again.

What if the person does not eat carbohydrate when the brains signals them to cave and have more carbs?  In lieu of the person eating carbohydrate, we have a built in survival mechanism whereby the liver will step up to the plate and release glycogen stores (storage form of glucose).  So, if a person fails to eat when the brain causes cravings, if the person waits more than 5 hours between mini feedings of carb, or during the night when the person is sleeping….the liver will take up the slack.  The body runs on blood glucose and if a person is not refueling, the liver has a mechanism to “self- feed” the body.

How did UCSD “forget about liver glycogen release when more than 5 hours pass without some carb intake?  clock

UCSD published “research” that recommends  women can decrease their risk of breast cancer by decreasing the amount of time spent eating and increasing the length of  overnight fasting to reduce  glucose levels and help reduce the risk of breast cancer .

UCSD failed to realize:

  1. Carbohydrates have a lifespan during which they affect blood glucose and that lifespan ends in the 4-5 hour range. If a person exceeds 5 hours without consuming at least a small amount of carb, their liver will naturally take charge by automatically dumping glycogen stores that can raise the blood sugar to the degree it would reach after eating a NY bagel!
  2. So, limiting times per day that a woman eats or asking her to fast as long as possible from the night time into the next day solves NOTHING from the insulin, blood glucose, hormonal standpoint. In fact, putting the liver in charge of self-feeding can result in  higher blood glucose and insulin levels than if she was purposefully spacing limited carb grams throughout her day.


I advise my patients with PCOS, metabolic syndrome, pre diabetes, diabetes, breast/colon/prostate/ovarian/uterine/skin cancer to eat a small amount of net carb grams (11-20 grams net carb) within one hour of waking up AND within one hour of bedtime.  By limiting the net carb in every 5 hour block of time, the person exerts control over blood sugar and insulin release.


UCSD recommends:

Wait as long as possible after waking up to have your first meal of the day

Don’t snack before bed so you can make the gap of time between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the day as far apart as possible

Limit the times/day you eat to save calories and limit “eating episodes” ?????”


Diane Kress recommends:

Have 11-20 grams net carb first thing when you awaken (this can be Greek yogurt with a serving of fresh fruit, a slice of whole grain bread with egg whites, a protein smoothie totaling 11-20 grams net carb, a light multigrain English muffin and cheese and so much more.

If your next meal will be more than 5 hours from breakfast, have 11-20 grams net carb between breakfast and lunch.  This “Band-Aid” snack will prohibit the liver from dumping unpredictable glycogen stores at the 4-5 hour.

Try to keep net carb grams at lunch to 11-35 grams.

If your lunch and dinner will exceed 5 hours, have an 11-20 gram net carb snack between these meals to stave off liver release

Try to keep net carb grams at dinner to 11-35 grams

Have 11-20 grams net carb within one hour of bedtime.

It’s not the carb grams/day that matter!  What matters is to take a limited amount of net carb grams spread between wake up and bedtime with no gaps over 5 hours.  I even recommend having 11-20 grams of carb in the middle of the night if you awaken.  This will limit the hours from bedtime to wake up and really keep unpredictable liver glycogen release limited.

So, UCSD….your study is majorly flawed.

You made the statement:
“Researchers recommend large-scale clinical trials to confirm that nighttime fasting results in favorable changes to biomarkers of glycemic control and breast cancer risk” Next time, don’t forget 50% of the equation.


About Diane Kress

Author of The New York Times Bestseller; The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, and The Diabetes Miracle. and The Metabolism Miracle, Revised Edition. Owner, developer, and administrator of The Metabolism Miracle's support site: Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Email:
This entry was posted in ADA, AMA, AND, breast cancer, Diane Kress, Diet, dLife,, excess insulin, LADA, low carb, low carbohydrate, Met B, Metabolic syndrome, Metabolism B,, obesity, overweight, PCOS, pre diabetes, prediabetes, prevent breast cancer, The Diabetes Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, The Metabolism Miracle Update, type 2 diabetes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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