Diet is now a key part of managing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, but new research adds to the growing body of evidence that it can also help treat cancer.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature, was found to be limiting. the uptake of an amino acid found in red meat and eggs significantly enhanced the treatment of cancer in mice, slowing tumor growth.
"These are very powerful effects and they are effects that are as powerful as we could see with the drugs that work." said Principal Investigator Jason Locasale, an assistant professor at Duke University's School of Medicine.
"What this study shows is that there are many situations where the drug does not work on its own, but if you combine the medicine with the diet, it works, or radiation therapy does not work well, but if you combine. "With diet, it works well," he told AFP.
The study focuses on limiting the uptake of the amino acid methionine, which is the key to a process called single-carbon metabolism that helps cancer cells grow.
of methionine is already associated with both anti-aging and and with weight loss, but its relevance to cancer cells suggests it may also be a promising way to improve cancer treatment.
Researchers first tested methionine restriction on healthy mice to confirm that they had the desired effects on metabolism and then went on to be tested in mice with colon cancer and soft tissue sarcomas.
They found that low-dose chemotherapy, which by itself had no effect on colorectal cancer, " growth inhibition observed tumor hedgehog "when combined with methionine restriction.
Similarly, the combination of methionine restriction with radiation therapy in the case of reduction of soft tissue sarcoma by tumor growth.
"You are starving the cancer cells of some nutrients at a very basic level," Locasale explained.
He warned that the results should not be xtrapolated beyond the cancers tested so far and that the studies have not been tested in humans.
"It's certainly not completely, after all, cancer, it's not some panacea," he said. 
"What it shows is that there are many interesting interactions between the food we eat, how it changes metabolism … and then how these changes in cellular metabolism can affect tumor growth. "
Independent experts also warn against reading too much into the study.
"Human research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn about the potential of dietary restriction as an approach to treating cancer," said Paul Pharoah, professor of cancer epidemiology at Cambridge University.
– "Really exciting" –
Locasale and colleagues expanded the study by testing a methionine-restricted diet in six healthy people and finding that the effect on human metabolism appeared s
This suggests that diet may it has a similar effect on certain tumors in humans, although Locasale warns that it is too early to reach definitive conclusions.
And Tom Sanders, professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London, warned that "there is no evidence from this study to suggest adherence to a vegan diet with the help of cancer patients."
Locasale stated that he hoped to eventually test for cancer research, but noted that nutrition research often struggles for funding because it offers treatments that are not readily available for profit.
Still, he said the work adds to a group of studies that suggest that diet can play an important role in cancer treatment.
Last year, a study showed that a type of chemotherapy drug was more effective in combination with a low-sugar, high-protein and fat-free diet. Other cancers seem to fight better in combination with low-sugar diets.
"It's just a really exciting area right now … where we see that diet has a huge effect on human health," said Lokasale.  He hopes for a future in which doctors will eventually be able to advise cancer patients to follow specific diets to aid their treatment.
"We're not there yet, but the goal is to get there eventually."