Can ketogenic diet help fight cancer? This is the question most people including cancer patients hope to find answers to. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy healthy body tissue. Cancer is mostly treated with a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
What is Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic or keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It involves reducing your intake of carbs severely, and replacing them with fat. This change leads to the metabolic state called ketosis. In keto diet, fat is the primary source of energy your body runs.
When you are on ketogenic diet, it causes a major increase in the levels of ketones in your blood. In general, a ketogenic diet used for weight loss is about 60-75% of calories as fat, with 15-30% of calories from protein and 5-10% of calories from carbs.
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Conversely, when a ketogenic diet is being used medicinally to treat cancer, the fat content may be extensively higher than the protein content.
Why Keto Diet May Help Treat Cancer
Cancer treatments mostly targets the biological differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Studies have shown that cancer cells feed off carbs or blood sugar in order to grow and multiply.
Now when you eat a ketogenic diet, some of the standard metabolic processes are transformed and your blood sugar levels drop, thereby starving the cancer cells and causing them to decrease in size and even die.
Eliminating carbs can quickly lower calorie intake, thereby reducing the energy available to the cancerous cells in your body. This may slow down tumor growth and the progression of the cancer. Other benefits of keto diet in combating cancer includes:
Keto diet Helps Lower Insulin
Insulin causes cells to grow, including cancerous cells. Keto diet helps lower insulin, which may eventually slow tumor growth.
Keto Helps Increase Ketones
Studies have indicated that cancer cells cannot use ketones as fuel. Ketones may reduce tumor size and growth.
The Effects of a Keto Diet on Cancer in Animals
Researchers have studied the ketogenic diet as an alternative cancer therapy for more than 50 years. Until recently, most of these studies were done in animals.
Results from researches conducted on animals shows that ketogenic diet can reduce tumor growth and improve survival rates.
A 22-day study in mice examined the differences between the cancer-fighting effects of ketogenic and other diets. The researchers found that 60% of mice on a ketogenic diet survived. This increased to 100% in mice that got a ketone supplement in addition to the ketogenic diet. None survived on a regular diet.
In spite of the promising evidence conducted on animals, research in humans is limited. Though the little research so far conducted has shown that keto diet may halt the growth of certain types of cancers.
A study conducted on 27 patients with digestive tract cancers, observed tumor growth in response to a high-carb versus a ketogenic diet. It was found that tumor growth increased by 32.2% in patients who received the high-carb diet but actually decreased by 24.3% in the patients on the ketogenic diet.
In another study, three out of five patients on a ketogenic diet combined with radiation or chemotherapy experienced complete remission. Interestingly, the other two participants found the disease progressed after they stopped the ketogenic diet.
Sources: healthline.com, medicalnewstoday.com
Image source: health.clevelandclinic.org
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