Can you follow a ketogenic diet to help treat cancer?


Quick Answer

There is some evidence that following a ketogenic diet may help cancer treatment, according to a paper published on ScienceDirect. It may help slow tumor growth and prevent new tumors from forming.

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Full Answer

Many cancer cells use glucose to metabolize and grow, according to AuthorityNutrition.com. This is different to healthy cells, which can use glucose, fatty acids or ketone bodies for fuel. When followed properly, ketogenic diets lower the levels of glucose in the blood, which may help starve the cancer cells and prevent their spread. Ideally, this should make them easier to kill or remove, but this research is still in the early stages.

It is impossible to completely remove glucose from the blood, and cancer cells can still spread on a ketogenic diet. Therefore, it is not a replacement for other forms of cancer treatment. A paper published on Cancer Research also raises concerns about weight loss in patients who may already be struggling to maintain a healthy weight due to illness. In this study, mice were fed various types of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. They found that while the growth of tumors was significantly reduced, many of the mice on very low-carbohydrate diets also lost significant amounts of weight. The paper showed that a less extreme carbohydrate restriction still slowed the tumor growth rate without the weight loss.

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