The ketogenic diet may have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of breast cancer tumours, experts say.
Professor Thomas Seyfried, from Boston College, believes animal and human research into the ketogenic diet and its capability for fighting off breast cancer shows huge potential.
The theory is based on using the keto diet to halt the fuel source to cells of particular tumours. This then switches the body into fat-burning mode by restricting intake to only 10% of calories from carbohydrates.
In an interview with US News, Prof Seyfried explained: “It’s called ketogenic metabolic therapy … the ketogenic diet shouldn’t be considered a diet like green salads or other such stuff. It’s essentially medicine, and the process primarily tries to remove one of the driving fuels for the disease, which is glucose, and transition the whole body over to ketones, which the tumour cells can’t use as a fuel. So, it’s very simple.”
A ketogenic diet involves eating around 30g or less of carbohydrates per day, which encourages the body to get its energy from burning fat which produces an energy source known as ketones.
In people with diabetes, the diet has proven effective in helping with weight loss and normalising blood glucose levels. Earlier this year, the keto diet was shown to outperform a low fat diet among people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
While the ketogenic diet has shown potential in shrinking some tumours, research has suggested that other melanomas use ketones to grow faster, and further research is required in order for a treatment protocol to be developed.
Prof Seyfried recently published research which he says outlined a “blueprint for the destruction of cancer”.
He said: “It’s a cocktail of drugs and procedures and foods and they all work synergistically to gradually eliminate the tumour while maintaining the health and vitality of our normal organs. The whole goal of this metabolic therapy […] is to gradually degrade and eliminate tumour cells without toxicity so the patient emerges from the therapy healthier than when they started.”
Dr Angela Poff, from the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida, added that she was encouraged by early findings, but stressed the importance of patients working alongside their doctor if they choose to adopt the diet.
“It’s absolutely critical for a cancer patient, if they wanted to do something like this, that they work very closely with their oncologist and a ketogenic diet-trained dietitia,” she said.

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