The famous Irish cook Domini Kemp is fighting an advertising ban against evidence in support of a ketogenic diet.
Ms Kemp believes advertising regulators are trying to “silence emerging silence” that is mentioned in her 2016 best-selling book The Ketogenic Kitchen.
Promising research exploring the benefits of ketogenic diets is being conducted in many areas of health, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and epilepsy. But the most exciting one is arguably cancer.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) put this ban in place following claims made by Ms Kemp and co-author Patricia Daly about the therapeutic effect of a ketogenic diet on cancer. The ASAI believes the claims were unfounded.
Ms Daly’s views and the object of the ban had to do with research showing that it may possible to effectively starve certain cancers by denying them access to glucose with ketogenic diets, which restrict carbohydrate intake.
This is actually an old idea revived by a handful of researchers, including Dominic D’Agostino, who are looking into using the ketogenic diet with chemotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a potential tactic for defeating cancer.
Ms Daly had claimed on her website that the diet can weaken tumours that express what is called the Warburg effect. Back in 1931, Dr Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize after he discovered that sugar feeds cancer and allows it to grow.
It followed that, years later, researchers who came after him would investigate the use of the ketogenic diet – which dramatically reduces sugar intake – to target aggressive cancers that are not treated effectively with the standard of care.
There is also evidence that ketones, which are produced when burning fat for fuel on a ketogenic diet, work by preventing cancerous cells from eliminating reactive oxygen species created by radiation therapy.
The ASAI said that Daly was in the wrong for presenting this scientific theory about the effect of a ketogenic diet on cancer metabolism as medical fact and that there wasn’t enough evidence to substantiate this.
Daly and Kemp are considering lodging an appeal against the complaint, which was originally made by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and the Irish Cancer Society to the ASAI.
Daly believes the ASAI is unfairly belittling her competence. In an interview to the Irish Times, she tells of her personal struggle against a tumour threatening her eye which got herself immersed in the science of cancer nutrition:
“On my website, I explain how the ketogenic diet saved me from losing my vision and my eye. It also helped shrink a secondary tumour which didn’t respond to radiotherapy,”
For Daly and Kemp, the research suggesting that the majority of cancers seem to be associated with an increased reliance on glucose and are therefore weakened by a ketogenic diets is scientifically defensible and too compelling to dismiss.

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