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For more than 50 years a Texas health practitioner advocated fasting to treat diseases and prolong life, and some of his patients died.

Herbert Shelton claimed that undigested food in the colon is converted to toxic waste products that cause cancer and shorten life. He recommended fasting to give the colon a rest and allow the colon to rid itself of waste products. In 1982, a federal jury awarded $873,000 to the family of a patient who died while fasting under Mr. Shelton's supervision.

The colon does such a good job of letting food pass through that toxic waste products do not accumulate. Most people can tolerate fasting for a few days. After that, they have to break down their body for energy, like Humphrey Bogart breaking up his boat, The African Queen, to burn the wood to keep his engine going. First they consume their body fat, then their muscles, and their heart. Eventually the heart becomes so weak that it can't pump blood through the body. The cause of death in starvation is heart failure and the longest that anyone has been recorded to survive is 66 days.

G Garruti, G Depergola, M Cignarelli, V Marangelli, G Santoro, V Triggiani, A Ciampolillo, R Giorgino. 34-Day total fast in an adult man. International Journal of Obesity 1995(Jan);19(1):46-49.

2)Schoken. Low-calorie diets and heart Failure. Arch Int Med April, 1989;149:877-881.

Checked 5/3/07

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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