Can a Keto Diet Treat Cancer?

From a new article on  Can a Keto Diet treat Brain Cancer?

"Taking into account other types of cancer — including lung, breast, pancreatic, prostate and melanoma — a total of 23 clinical trials are currently registered at that are investigating the ketogenic diet as an adjunct to standard cancer therapy. Over the last decade, research investigating the ketogenic’s diet role in basic cancer research and in emerging therapies has burgeoned, with more than 170 studies or theoretical papers currently in the research literature. The number is increasing each month."

Why is there so much research on ketogenic diets for cancer, not so much on high carbohydrate diets (grain-based, macrobiotic, vegan, etc.)? Simply because it is a fact that cancer cells are glucose-dependent whereas healthy cells are not, so restricting glucose will harm cancer cells but not healthy cells.

The only way to get a metabolic effect similar to a ketogenic diet while eating a high carbohydrate diet like the usual grain-based macrobiotic or vegan diet is to severely restrict food (calorie) intake so that you rapidly lose body mass, forcing your body to get most of its energy from animal fat, i.e. the fat on your own body. I think this explains why most if not all reports of some success in controlling cancer with plant based diets (whether macrobiotic, raw, vegan, etc.) indicate that the subject has a dramatic loss of body weight during the "healing" phase.

The problem with a carbohydrate based diet for cancer management is that you can't starve yourself forever. At some point you have to start eating a sufficient number of calories to maintain health and function of non-cancerous tissues. If you do this with a glucose-rich diet such as the grain-based macrobiotic diet, you will recreate the conditions that favor the glucose-hungry cancer cells.

I hypothesize that this is why cancer has emerged in and even taken the lives of several prominent promoters of the grain-based macrobiotic diet, including among the Kushi family. 
Michio Kushi, promoter of the grain-based macrobiotic diet, and author of The Cancer Prevention Diet, which advocated a grain-based diet for prevention of cancer, died at 88 years from pancreatic cancer after a bout with colon cancer.

Michio's wife Aveline and daughter Lily both died after developing cervical cancer. As discussed in the linked article, cervical cancer is primarily linked to HPV, which according to conventional medicine is strongly linked to sexual promiscuity and transmission

Apparently cancer has also claimed the lives of several women who were highly faithful to a vegan macrobiotic diet and long-term teachers of macrobiotic cooking classes at the Kushi Institute.
The underlying hypothesis that animal fat and protein cause and promote cancer lacks a strong scientific basis. If it were so, fasting, which is running on your own body fat and protein, which are ANIMAL fat and protein, would promote cancer, when in fact it is well established that short-term fasting (i.e. running your body exclusively on mammalian fat and protein) strongly undermines cancer cells but preserves healthy cells.


Jonathan Groot said…
Are you suggesting that utilization of your own fat stores is the same as consuming *animal* fat? Surely you are aware that there are important metabolic differences between oral consumption of a substance and the degradation of a similar substance in the body.

Similarly, I don't understand why you choose to equate consuming foods with glucose and having high blood sugar levels. It is quite possible to have favorable blood glucose levels while consuming foods with plenty of glucose.

Without knowing much more about the prominent figures from the vegan macrobiotic scene, it also seems pretty obvious that the high amounts of arsenic in brown rice, which is often consumed heavily in macrobiotics, could lead to cancers when consumed in such high amounts.

silvertabby said…
Jonathan wrote,

"Similarly, I don't understand why you choose to equate consuming foods with glucose and having high blood sugar levels. It is quite possible to have favorable blood glucose levels while consuming foods with plenty of glucose."

Yes, but at the same time the insulin level may be elevated and the pancreas overburdened maintaining the favorable blood glucose levels.

I've always had normal fasting blood glucose levels, varying between 65 and 95, but usually around 95. Finally, a doctor tested my insulin levels when my glucose measured 85 and found the insulin level to be elevated (16). After a few months on a lower carb diet, my glucose measured 85 and my insulin was down to 7 (4 or 5 is ideal). My liver and pancreas functions still need improvement, but this should happen overtime.

I think doctors don't check insulin because they're taught that insulin resistance is permanent and not treatable, but that doesn't seem to be true in my case.

Right now I'm eating a small potato and three servings of fruit and many low-carb veggies. But I may need to reduce this carb level further depending on my upcoming blood work results. (Before, I was eating one pound of rice/potatoes plus fruits, chocolate, dairy, etc.)

As for animal fats, if someone has the APOE-4 gene and a high LDL *particle number* (LDL-P), then saturated fat reduction may make sense.
Jonathan Groot said…
@silvertabby Insulin levels may be increased, despite normal blood sugar levels, when consuming foods such as beef and fish (see insulin index). I understand your point, though I believe it would negate the point you are making.

I am happy about your improvements in health. Although I doubt, given the evidence on insulin sensitivity and diet, that you could not achieve better or similar results with a diet rich in carbohydrates (for example whole grains, beans, veggies, etc.).

silvertabby said…

My main point was that if insulin resistance is suspected, then insulin should be tested even if glucose levels are normal. I don't mean to promote any particular eating plan, although it's my understanding that carbs have a stronger influence on insulin than protein.

I also ate fewer calories and lost 28 pounds, which may have been an important factor.
Jonathan Groot said…

Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I was trying to point out the fact that certain protein-rich foods result in similar insulin responses as refined carbohydrate-rich foods.

As you note, you ate fewer calories. Don seems to suggest that the ketogenic diets for treating cancer do not (intentionally or unintentionally) restrict calories. I would like to see how true that is in the examples referred to, as it seems most studies on the ketogenic diet are also calorie-restricted.

Although I am not aware of many intervention studies on a strictly vegan diet and cancer, the available studies on carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g. fruits and whole grains) indicate that some repress cancer cell growth while others are neutral. On the other hand, several foods, like eggs, which feature heavily in some ketogenic diets, appear to promote cancer cell growth.

It seems to me there are much simpler explanations for Don's observation then he suggests.