Cancer is not one, but many diseases or a collection of related diseases. But in all types of cancer, cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues. But the similarity ends there, a breast cancer cell is very different from a lung cancer cell or prostate cancer cell. This is how metastatic cancers are identified. Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells to new areas of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. If a liver cancer cell is found outside the liver, or a breast cancer cell is found in tissues away from breast tissue, then that form of cancer is said to be metastatic, it has spread from it's origination point.
MOST COMMON TYPES OF CANCER
- Breast Cancer - A cancer that forms in the cells of the breast.
- Prostate Cancer - Cancer that forms in a man's prostate, the gland that produces seminal fluid.
- Basal Cell Cancer - The most common type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells.
- Melanoma - The most serious type of skin cancer.
- Colon Cancer - A cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the end of the digestive tract.
- Lung Cancer - A cancer that begins in the lungs and most often occurs in people who smoke.
- Leukemia - A cancer of blood-forming tissues, hindering the body's ability to fight infection.
- Lymphoma - A cancer of the lymphatic system.
Many of these cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of cancerous tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form tumors.
CANCER RESEARCH RELATED TO DIET
Warburg’s discovery, known as The Warburg Effect, suggests that cancer cells take up an excess of glucose and convert it to lactate for energy (ATP) production. This dependence on blood glucose allows modern day oncologists to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to locate tumors by mixing radiolabeled dye with sugar (glucose).
Within months of Warburg’s glucose/cancer discovery, the Ketogenic Diet was discovered to be beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. The Ketogenic Diet was designed to mimic the biological effects of starvation on the body, when it was discovered that fasting helped to relieve otherwise difficult to control seizures.
WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?
Normally, your body gets its main source of energy (glucose/sugar) from carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet eliminates most carbs and deprives your body of glucose, inducing a state of "ketosis." During ketosis, your body is forced to break down stored fat instead of sugar to produce an alternative source of energy.
BENEFITS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
For most people, the keto diet will result in weight loss, but this might not be the healthiest or easiest way to do it. When your body burns fat because it is starved of carbs, it makes ketones. Ketones are a type of acid made by your liver and then sent into your bloodstream.
Too many ketones can lead to dehydration and alter the chemical balance of your blood. The downside, eliminating entire food groups is difficult and can also be hard to stick with long-term.
THE KETOGENIC DIET HAS ALSO SHOWN EVIDENCE OF HAVING BENEFITS ON:
- Reducing high blood pressure.
- Reducing triglyceride levels.
- Raising HDL “good” cholesterol levels.
- Improving mental performance.
THE KETOGENIC DIET IN CANCER THERAPY
“BASED ON THE RESULTS OF RIGOROUS PRECLINICAL AND CLINICAL STUDIES PERFORMED THUS FAR, THE KETOGENIC DIET 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.” KETOGENIC DIET IN CANCER THERAPY 2018
HUMAN STUDIES: KETOGENIC DIETS AND CANCER
Most human data come from case reports and small studies, and though the results are mixed, most studies suggest a potential benefit. Importantly, all in-human studies to date show that the ketogenic diet is safe, with few adverse events. Most side effects that may occur are transient and mild and include fatigue, constipation, or diarrhea. One study found that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels increased after healthy obese adults adopted a ketogenic diet for 6 months. Another study of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy found similar results, with cholesterol levels progressively rising during 1 year of the diet.
Preclinical data suggest that the ketogenic diet may be an effective adjunct to cancer treatment, though some cancer types, such as kidney cancer, may not benefit. No in-human studies have found that the ketogenic diet is harmful to patients, even while undergoing conventional treatment, though a slight rise in cholesterol levels may occur.
NOTE: Cancer patients who wish to adopt the ketogenic diet should seek the help of a nutritionist to ensure that their micronutrient needs are satisfied and that they are consuming the appropriate proportions of macronutrients. Patients may need to supplement their diet with vitamins, minerals, or other micronutrient supplements depending on their dietary patterns.
Summary: Based on the conclusions of all cited studies, ketogenic diets used to fight cancer are worth further exploration, both in the laboratory and clinically. Patients wishing to undertake a ketogenic diet during therapy should receive dietary counselling to avoid common mistakes and optimize success.
To learn more about Cancer and the Ketogenic Diet, see:
- Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy
- Ketogenic Diets and Cancer: Emerging Evidence
- The emerging role of ketogenic diets in cancer treatment
- Glucose Reliance and Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Squamous Cell Carcinomas
- History of the ketogenic diet
- The Expanding Role of Ketogenic Diets in Adult Neurological Disorders