Fasting - to lower white blood cell count - CLL Support

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Fasting - to lower white blood cell count


Curious if anyone has tried fasting. This study seems to point to fasting as a way to lower white blood cell count. " Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat, which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signalling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

This means that fasting kills off old and damaged immune cells, and when the body rebounds it uses stem cells to create brand new, completely healthy cells.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the heatopoietic system. . . . When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ” – Valter


16 Replies

I would be taking this with a pinch of salt!

Trials done on people receiving chemo hmmm!

Maybe that had an affect on the white cells do you think?

Fasting kills off white cells hmmm!

Maybe lack of nourishment brings the immune system down ? Of course it would !

I think this is a dangerous piece of crank research where statistics and damned statistics are manipulated to prove what is required.

Correct diet is a must when suffering from cancer or receiving chemo don't believe everything you read!

Juanmf in reply to Cammie

Valid points. But the trick here was that after refeed, WBC count went back to normal very fast. The hypothesis behind this is the famous stem cells boost.

CllcanadaTop Poster CURE Hero

FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims


Yup, I tried this personally and WBC were dropped significantly.

Splash24 in reply to AAli

I have fasted on and off for the last 1 1/2, it has made a difference, without question, I read studies back as far as the 1950's/60's Dr.s in those days had very good success with implementing fasts....having said that I understand completely why it has not gone "mainstream" in spite of some success, its not for the faint of heart! I believe that USC is in the process of raising money for another study. The point of the initial study was that the fasting left cancer cells much more vulnerable, thus rendering the chemo more effective. I can tell you that the impact that it has had in my case has been significant, on both my WBC and the Abs Lymph numbers. I think that I would actually research the science/studies before labelling as "crank research", Dr. Longo at USC is into some ground breaking research, needs to be commended, any possible advantage in cancer has to be studied.

SheAlLi in reply to Splash24

Splash24, the same thing happened to me. I am going through chemotherapy do or die was the reason because my autoimmune disease had stated liquifying my inner organs starting with my lung and life expectancy was 3 months to max a year (very much in question at that stage) so I was put on a high dosage of steroids and cyclophosphamide. After 3/4 of a year my white blood cells were badly down. So I did research and came full circle back to fasting Longo and Dr. Dawn Lemanne. I started Intermittent fasting and got up from 2.2 to 2.9 over about 4 months without any change in meds.

It worked and I felt a million times better. Being born in Germany , I knew about fasting for healing purposes but now they even have hospital wards just dedicated to fasting to cure all kinds of illnesses especially autoimmune diseases. I wish it would come to Canada too.


You may find this story from USC interesting. The story is from 2014. it has a link to the Journal Cell on the topic as well.

I also would be interested in comments from others after reading the story.



sweetsue49 in reply to SBMACLL

Excellent source! I appreciate the referral to some scientific evidence - as opposed to conjecture. I found fasting to be pretty helpful years ago - but I really haven't done it for years - so I think based on this evidence - it actually might be worth a try. “We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said corresponding author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”

CllcanadaTop Poster CURE Hero

In CLL references to 'WBC' are fairly meaningless... the cells that matter are the B leukocytes... and blood counts are simply a reflection of the actual disease in the nodes and spleen...

A study looking at fasting and only B cells might be of greater value...

I had a fairly pronounced regression in blood absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) due to changes in diet and exercise, so I feel it is certainly possible to reduce the inflamatory response, effecting the immune system and lower B cell counts, atleast temporarily...

Fascinating area of research, but for CLL it needs more specific studies...



Hi just wondering how long would you fast for and would you keep hydrated or have nothing at all?

Splash24 in reply to Nadsrziguix

water only 4 ish days, since then they have produced a fasting mimicking diet (ProLong). For me, it has had the same affect as water only fast only much easier. Until I started this my WBC and Abs Lymph count had increased EACH year for 6 consecutive years, I now have had decreases in both numbers every year for the last 3. All I know is that my numbers were steadily heading up, and this has consistently sent them in the other direction. Obviously I will continue.

Hi Sue, I am 49, believed to be close to stage 0, w & w, but they are still testing me for some tick borne ailments...and was looking to try the Longo fast for overall health improvement. I fasted in May in a similar style to Dr. Longo's method, and with my family doc on board, and he had a cbc with diff. drawn on day 6 after my 5 day near fast. My abs lymphs were sky high and neuts low as I read would happen, with a total wbc hovering around 10 total. A couple weeks later I had another cbc with my onc. and found my neuts had jumped higher than they had in months and abs lymphs were lower, barely above 5k and my wbc overall changed very little hanging around 9.75k for me. My platelets also jumped up slightly too which was nice to see. I felt very good following the fast and also lost 10 pounds or so and lost the cravings for bad foods I had prior to the fast. I have since purchased the L-nutra plan for a "proper" 5 day mimic fast and plan on doing it for 3 consecutive months in a row as recommended by the research. If you have not watched the netflix video on fasting, check it out.

AussieNeilAdministrator in reply to kragb

Hi Krab and welcome to our community,

In the interest of perspective, an absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) of under 10 (given your WBC was around 10) is NOT sky high. CLL specialists only look at lymphocyte doubling time when absolute lymphs climb above 30 and we have members in watch and wait with ALCs of 200 to 300. The highest ALC I know of is in someone with CLL is about 1,400!

You mention your neutrophils being low initially, but if they were under say 1.5 (depends on the lab) then you are neutropenic and need to take additional precautions against infections. If they were above 1.5, then your ALC would be under 8.5, so you saw a drop to 5 which is really inconsequential - it's well within the normal fluctuations observed without any external influence. While it is good to hear you are recognising benefits from your fasting and are doing so with medical oversight, I don't consider that you have even moderate evidence that it is affecting your CLL. There is some research being done on fasting and cancer, but in mouse models and other animals. It may provide benefits, but I don't know of any specific double blind clinical trials in humans confirming this.

With CLL, we need to look at overall trends and these posts reference spreadsheets that can help you do this:

This post summarises what many have found does help us live better with CLL:


Dr. Longo, at USC was doing reputable research on this which sounded very interesting, but I have not seen follow up reports to the initial ones. The concept is interesting, but I would like to know whether this research was continued or dropped. I guess I should make a few phone calls and ask my hematologist if he has seen anything, as SC (my Alma mater) and UCLA (where I am seen) are cross town rivals, especially for (American) football, but they both have very good medical schools and share information.

Old post but worth adding my xp here.

This Monday I took a blood test on my 4th day of fasting, WBC 4.7 (normal low, 0.1 higher than a test I did 2 years ago on a regular pre-tests 13hr fast.) will take a new test in a week to see if it goes up after refeed but don’t have much expectations.

Other interesting numbers:

Glucose: 59 (Low, 54 and down requires immediate intervention, yet I was walking around like nothing, and the day before, 3rd day of fast I played a soccer match, no problem)

CRP: 0,2 (crazy low inflammation indicator.

Every lipid marker HIGH.

HDL 73

LDL 261

TRIG 213

Total 374

Electrolytes low normal.


3 days was good to boost stem cells in rats (with a metabolism ~7X faster). The evidence of this is the lower and later fast replenish of white blood cells. I hypothesize that’s why anecdotal healing stories start picking up on 21 days fasts.

That said, I did notice cleaner skin on day 3.

And back in February I did a 5 days fast to attempt to recover from an injury in my lower back I got at the gym the day prior to start my fast. With AMAZING results. I’ll try to experiment more in the future (don’t do fasts very often) but it’s not easy to do a 15-21 days fast when working and socializing.


High Juan,

I see that you have joined today and that you report a very low WBC for someone with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, so I wonder if you actually have this blood cancer? Irrespective, from your answer, I take it that you are unaware that your WBC is the sum of five different white blood cell types and the counts of each can vary throughout the day. Further, the fundamental repeatability of white blood cell counting equipment is way more than the 0.1 variation you report. Your WBC is essentially stable, but it's quite likely that individual white blood cell counts have varied up and down from your last test.


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