Can Keto Diet Be The Potential Diet To Treat Cancer?

Keto Diet

The Keto diet is a diet that has created a heavy buzz nowadays and every influencer talks about how he lost 5 or 10 kg weight with the keto diet. But does this keto diet has the potential for treating cancer, you will get to know about that in this article.

As we know that cancer loves glucose as cancer cells thrive on glucose as they are the primary source of energy in the cancer cell. Cancer cells divide rapidly and need a lot of glucose for the dividing cells. Studies have found that steroids treatment in cancer patient leads to an increased risk of infection.

Now with the help of the ketogenic diet, it can have a high effect on the treatment of cancer and with the help of chemotherapy, it would be much effective in the cancer patient.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet consists of high-fat foods, foods that contain an adequate amount of protein, and a very low amount of carbohydrates. Normally, the human body gets its main source of energy (sugar) from carbohydrate. However, the ketogenic diet deprives the body of glucose, inducing a state of “ketosis.” During ketosis, the body is forced to break down stored fat instead of sugar to produce an alternative source of energy. The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet has been around for centuries. Traditionally, some have used it as a therapy for conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy.

How Can The Keto Diet Help In Treating Cancer?

As we know normal cells need glucose for energy, But when they have no glucose they use ketone and fatty acid. But cancer cell only uses glucose for their growth. So ketogenic diet can be very important for cancer treatment.

Cancer also relies on starch and insulin that drives them into the cell so ketogenic diet leads to decrease in insulin and lead to stop the growth of cancer cell.

Glucose stimulates pancreatic β cell to release insulin, this allows glucose to enter the cell and provide energy. with high intake of glucose carbohydrate and glucose pancreas increasingly secrete more insulin, which promotes growth hormone and growth receptor to produce IGF-1 (insulin growth factor)  in the liver which promote cell growth and proliferation.

Overexpression of glucose transporters 1 and 3 (glut-1,3) occur in cancer which require excess oxygen and ketogenic disrupt the cycle.

A ketogenic diet mimics the fasting state wherein the body responds to a lack of glucose by producing ketone for energy. (Warburg effect) compensate for ATP production.

Ketogenic diet selectively starves cancer cell which provides fat and protein that otherwise which cannot be used by cancer cells.

The ketogenic diet has a 4:1 ratio of fat to low carbohydrate which mimic the starvation effect.

Ketogenic diet amplify AMPK adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase which inhibits glycolysis and suppress cancer proliferation and migration.

 Recent Research on Ketogenic Diet

New research explores the keto diet as a potential avenue for cancer treatment. Jung-Whan Kim, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, is the corresponding author of the new study. They used a mouse model of a lung and oesophageal cancer, Kim and colleagues restricted the rodents’ levels of circulating glucose by feeding them a ketogenic diet and administering them a diabetes drug that stops the kidneys from reabsorbing blood sugar. The researchers have published their paper in the journal Cell Reports. Meng-Hsiung Hsieh is the first author.

  • Thomas Seyfried, PhD, Professor, researcher and pioneer of cancer as a metabolic disease Calorie restriction and fasting are methods that Seyfried has studied in mice with brain tumours with striking results. By restricting carbohydrate the tumour cells starve and stop growing. Nutritional ketosis provides a similar environment as fasting by supplying dietary fat. Incorporating ketogenic metabolic therapies into cancer treatment has been shown in case reports and small studies to be effective in brain, breast, colon, ovary, lung and pancreatic cancers as the main source of calories.
  • The first clinical trial of short-term fasting in humans, which was published in 2009, reported results in 10 patients with various types of cancer. It found that fasting reduced chemotherapy-related toxicities —fatigue, weakness and gastrointestinal side effects — in the six patients who fasted 48 to 140 hours before and five to 56 hours after some (but not all) of their chemotherapy sessions.

Side Effects of a Keto Diet-

side effects of keto diet
  1. When starting the keto diet a person has flu-like symptoms  and headache
  2. Starting the keto diet a person can have a drop in libido which is reset as one gets adapted to the ketogenic diet.
  3. There is frequent urination which leads to the loss of electrolytes.
  4. A ketogenic diet lead to dehydration
  5. It also leads to cardiac arrhythmia as electrolytes are necessary for a healthy heart.
  6. It also leads to weight loss which can be good for an obese person but not for the cancer patient.


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