The keto diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, was developed to treat epilepsy patients. Today researchers continue to do studies on a variety of individuals to find out whether the keto diet can help with other conditions such as cancer. In particular, recently experts have done a few studies on whether the diet can help women with cervical and endometrial cancer. Read more below and check out the Body Reboot book to learn all about its many benefits that range from losing weight to dealing with less body inflammation.
Healthline discusses a study that we will cover more below that reveals that women who followed a keto plan for an extended length of time had an improvement in their symptoms.
Researchers examined 45 overweight or obese women with ovarian or endometrial cancer. They were randomly assigned to either the ketogenic diet or the American Cancer Society-recommended diet, which is a moderate- to high-carbohydrate, high-fiber and low-fat diet.
Compared to those who followed a low-fat diet recommended by the American Cancer Society (ACS), women with cancer who stayed on the keto plan for 12 weeks shed more body fat and had lower insulin levels. The research was published in Journal of Nutrition.
But the experts caution that positive weight loss in cancer patients doesn’t mean that the diet is a treatment for the disease.
The Journal of Nutrition is the study that Healthline mentioned above, and here is what the journal discovered based on their review of women who have ovarian and endometrial cancer.
The glycolytic nature of cancer cells presents a potential treatment target that may be addressed by a ketogenic diet (KD).
We hypothesized that a KD would improve body composition and lower serum insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in women with ovarian or endometrial cancer.
In this randomized controlled trial, women with ovarian or endometrial cancer [age: ≥19 y; body mass index (kg/m2): ≥18.5] were randomly assigned to a KD (70:25:5 energy from fat, protein, and carbohydrate) or the American Cancer Society diet (ACS; high-fiber, low-fat). Body composition (DXA) and fasting serum insulin, IGF-I, and β-hydroxybutyrate were obtained at baseline and at 12 wk; urinary ketones were also measured throughout the intervention. We assessed differences between the diets with ANCOVA and independent t tests. We used correlation analyses to estimate associations between changes in serum analytes and body composition.
In women with ovarian or endometrial cancer, a KD results in selective loss of fat mass and retention of lean mass. Visceral fat mass and fasting serum insulin also are reduced by the KD, perhaps owing to enhanced insulin sensitivity. Elevated serum β-hydroxybutyrate may reflect a metabolic environment inhospitable to cancer proliferation.
Clinical Advisor also provides an excellent summary of The Journal of Nutrition study and how this study shows promising signs that it may help treat women with ovarian cancer.
Eligible candidates were aged ≥19 years with no pre-existing medical conditions affecting body weight (excluding cancer and associated treatments), were not aggressively attempting to lose or gain weight, and had a body mass index (BMI) of ≥18 kg/m2. Women with type 2 diabetes were eligible for participation.
Of the 73 women randomly assigned to either a keto diet or the American Cancer Society (ACS) diet (high in fiber, low in fat), 45 completed the study: 20 women in the ACS diet cohort and 25 women in the keto diet cohort. At baseline and at 12 weeks, body composition, fasting serum insulin, IGF-1, and β-hydroxybutyrate were measured.
“In summary, among women with ovarian or endometrial cancer, a [12-week keto diet] produced selective loss of total and visceral fat, maintenance of lean body mass, and decreases in cancer-related growth factors,” the authors concluded. “Further study in a clinical setting is needed to determine whether the [keto diet] may be an effective nonpharmacologic adjuvant therapy for cancer.”
The ketogenic diet in cancer therapy study from 2018 discusses how this high fat, low carb diet may not only help women who have ovarian cancer, but it may work as a treatment for other types of cancers as well.
Numerous preclinical studies have provided evidence for an anti-tumor effect of KDs. For example, our laboratory intensively studied the anti-tumor effect of KDs in combination with or without low-dose chemotherapy on neuroblastoma. We found that the growth of neuroblastoma xenografts was significantly reduced by a KD consisting of a 2:1 ratio of fat to carbohydrate + protein when combined with caloric restriction. However, caloric restriction, despite its anti-tumor effect and potential to sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy, would be contraindicated in a range of cancer patients, particularly those with cachexia. Thus, we further focused on optimizing the KD composition to address this issue. We found that an ad libitum KD (8:1) with a fat content of 25% medium-chain triglycerides and 75% long-chain triglycerides produced a stronger anti-tumor effect compared to a KD (8:1) with all long-chain triglycerides, and was as efficacious against neuroblastoma as the above-described KD (2:1) combined with caloric restriction. These results stress the importance of an optimized KD composition to suppress tumor growth and to sensitize tumors to chemotherapy without requiring caloric restriction.
In conclusion, clinical application of KDs as an adjuvant therapy for cancer patients first requires that the KD be evaluated for its anti-tumor effect for each single type/genetic subtype of cancer in a preclinical setting, as the safety and efficacy of the KD strongly depend on the tumor entity and its genotype. Based on the results of rigorous preclinical and clinical studies performed thus far, the KD would appear to be a promising and powerful option for adjuvant therapy for a range of cancers. Cancer-specific recommendations await the findings of randomized controlled clinical trials.
Ruled.me also mentions another study from 2010 that shows that the keto diet may help starve cancer:
A 2010 case study published in Nutrition & Metabolism also suggests that the ketogenic diet may help certain individuals with cancer. For their evaluation, researchers chose a 65-year old woman with GBM.
This particular patient had a tumor in her right hemisphere that led to chronic headaches, frequent fatigue, and increasing memory loss. Doctors removed some of the tumor through an incomplete surgical resection, but her symptoms persisted.
To control her tumor, the patient implemented a ketogenic diet for two months. Her dietary approach consisted of a water fast followed by a restricted 4 to 1 ratio diet of fats to carbohydrates and protein. Overall, this diet contained a total of 600 calories per day.
She supplemented the diet with minerals and vitamins to avoid micronutrient deficiencies. The patient also participated in conventional therapies to treat the tumor but stopped taking her steroid medications.
After two months, the patient had no detectable brain tumor tissue. A blood analysis revealed that she had lower levels of blood glucose and increased levels of urinary ketones. She also had lost 20% of her body weight, which was a desirable outcome in this case.
The patient experienced no notable side effects due to her ketogenic diet. After suspending her diet and therapy for ten weeks, her tumor resurfaced. The doctors reinitiated chemotherapy. She eventually succumbed to her illness less than two years after the initial diagnosis.
With this case study, it is important to note that patients with GBM rarely experience a rapid tumor regression after surgical resection and conventional therapy. Thus, the researchers emphasized that the “…response of the GBM in this patient after standard treatment alone would be unlikely, further suggesting a role for targeting energy metabolism as part of the management strategy.”
In their conclusions, they stated that the favorable response could be attributed “in part” to the calorie-restricted ketogenic diet. However, the researchers emphasized that “further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of restricted ketogenic diets, administered alone or together with standard treatment, as a therapy for GBM and possibly other malignant brain tumors.”
In summary, the keto diet can help combat cancer because it has the potential of starving cancer due to eating more fat instead of carbs which consist of glucose. The Truth About Cancer discusses the keto diet’s ability to starve cancer and what they reveal is astounding.
Otto Warburg was a leading cell biologist who led to the discovery that cancer cells are unable to flourish using energy produced from cellular respiration but instead from glucose fermentation. Dr. Thomas Seyfried and other cancer researchers agree and have further discovered that cancer cells are also fueled from the fermentation of the amino acid glutamine.
With ketogenic diets, lowering carbohydrates will reduce your levels of glucose, the fuel that feeds cancer cells. This will put your body into ketosis and will assist in depleting cancer cells of their energy supply.
Cancer cells are unlike normal cells in many ways, but one of their traits that is most unique regards insulin receptors. They have ten times more insulin receptors on their cellular surface. This enables cancer cells to gorge themselves in glucose and nutrients coming from the bloodstream at a very high rate. As you continue to consume glucose as your primary diet source, cancer cells will continue to thrive and spread. It is no surprise that the lowest survival rate in cancer patients is among those with the highest blood sugar levels.
Cancer cells have damaged mitochondria and lack the ability to create energy from aerobic respiration. They cannot metabolize fatty acids for energy. For this reason, cancer cells thrive in oxygen-depleted environments. Instead, cancer cells metabolize glucose and amino acids. Restricting glucose or the amino acid glutamine is essential to starve off cancer.
It’s exciting to think that the keto diet may help treat cancer, and there are many studies to come that will reveal how the diet may help. Learn about the keto diet in the Body Reboot book and how it may benefit you. To get your free copy, help us cover the cost of shipping and visit this page today.
Sources: The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 148, Issue 8, August 2018, Healthline, Clinical Advisor, “Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy.” Aging vol. 10,2 (2018), Medical News Today, The Truth About Cancer, Ruled.me
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