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Old 04-16-2014, 10:16 AM   #1
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Will a ketogenic diet decrease your chances of getting cancer?

I've often read about ketogenic diet as a part of a cancer treatment but they never seem to mention whether it will help prevent getting it in the first place.

I'm guessing this hasn't been studied much but either way what are your thoughts on this?

If you have less "cancer fuel" in your body, isn't that then likely to decrease the chances of a spark becoming a fire?
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Old 04-16-2014, 10:27 AM   #2
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I think that would be very difficult to study and prove. There are so many factors besides diet that could cause cancer, both environmentally and genetically.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:46 AM   #3
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Given how multi-factorial cancers are, and that there are both heritable and environmental factors at play, I'd say crediting ketogenic diets with cancer prevention is going way beyond what any evidence has indicated. We can prove that 'some' specific cancers 'may generally' show retarded rates of growth under ketogenic condition. That's as far as is sensible to go given the body of evidence as it stands.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:49 AM   #4
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I would suspect yes, but like the others said there are way too many confounding factors to get a definitive scientific answer.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Arctic_Mama View Post
Given how multi-factorial cancers are, and that there are both heritable and environmental factors at play, I'd say crediting ketogenic diets with cancer prevention is going way beyond what any evidence has indicated. We can prove that 'some' specific cancers 'may generally' show retarded rates of growth under ketogenic condition. That's as far as is sensible to go given the body of evidence as it stands.
Isn't it a fact though that all cancer cells only run on glucose? I'd think having less of it in your body would decrease the chances of it growing to the point of making problems. So it would not be surprising if this is the case, but then again the body isn't as simple working as we sometimes think it is.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:28 PM   #6
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They use a radioactive sugar solution to detect cancer in MRIs because cancer cells absorb more sugar than the surrounding cells. That point doesn't even seem to be in question.

I would think the next step in sensible research would be to determine how manipulating that known fact could be used to treat or prevent cancer. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but if the goal is in fact to treat or prevent cancer somehow without a patented drug.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:45 PM   #7
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The Ottobonis write about this on their blog called Ketopia. I was coincidentally just reading about it. Check it out.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:46 PM   #8
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It's an interesting proposition - unfortunately, the medical and pharmaceutical industries won't benefit so there won't be any money to fund such a study!

Too many variables and it would be difficult to control conditions (including environmental, hereditary, consumption, lifestyle) over a long enough period.

Let's have a reunion in 30 years and see who is still in ketosis and cancer free.

That said, one of my motivators for NK is the chance that it might be beneficial to dodge some of the bullets of aging.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:56 PM   #9
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I personally believe that a ketogenic way of eating will help to combat many diseases. Including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimers. That's just my personal belief, but of course there isn't enough research to back it all up. As sbarr said, there isn't enough money in it for the medical industry to bother researching it, so it may never happen, but I believe it has long term health benefits.
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:08 PM   #10
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Who knows. I ate this way before I had cancer. There are a million and one things that could have contributed to it. After my diagnosis I was put on an extremely low fat (read: sugar) diet to help prevent recurrence. I gained lots of weight, and weight has been positively coorelated with cancer. Dropped the diet and the pounds.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:11 PM   #11
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I personally believe that eating low carb gives you a fighting chance. Sugar suppresses the immune system, and cancer DOES thrive on glucose, so we should at the very least be less prone to many diseases than most people.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mimivac View Post
Who knows. I ate this way before I had cancer. There are a million and one things that could have contributed to it. After my diagnosis I was put on an extremely low fat (read: sugar) diet to help prevent recurrence. I gained lots of weight, and weight has been positively coorelated with cancer. Dropped the diet and the pounds.
That's shocking that they did that.

Perhaps this diet won't prevent cancer but there is a lot that suggests it's a useful tool to fight the cancer once you have it. Perhaps your body produces enough glucose so the diet won't matter much... but intentionally putting you on a diet that increases glucose in your body is very irresponsible. What were they're arguments that a low-fat diet would be better cancer wise?
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:59 PM   #13
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That's shocking that they did that.

Perhaps this diet won't prevent cancer but there is a lot that suggests it's a useful tool to fight the cancer once you have it. Perhaps your body produces enough glucose so the diet won't matter much... but intentionally putting you on a diet that increases glucose in your body is very irresponsible. What were they're arguments that a low-fat diet would be better cancer wise?
They based it on the Nurses Health Study, where fat intake of 15 grams or less was correlated with decreased recurrance rates of breast cancer.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:23 PM   #14
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I am not understanding this. A low-fat diet does not automatically correlate with high sugar--or any sugar at all. I regularly eat low carb, low fat due to medical issues.

If low fat eating correlated to decreased recurrence of any illness I had, I'd definitely opt for low fat.

Please keep in mind the 'cancer' is a very varied disease. In any disease, normal body weight is the most significant advantage as overweight not only makes any surgery more difficult but can often impede the effectiveness of certain types of chemo.
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:59 PM   #15
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There is actually a decent amount of literature out there regarding this topic. While you'd think it would be hard to control for various environmental and genetic elements, they do try to do more controlled studies in cells, mice, etc.

As far as I know, ketogenic diets were mostly studied in certain brain cancers, namely glioblastoma, if I remember correctly. Since they knew these tumor cells thrived on sugar but could not use ketone bodies, they put patient's on ketogenic diets. I'm not sure if it changed survival ultimately.

Obesity and hyperglycemia and both pro-inflammatory and I can see them both being related to higher incidence of cancer (breast cancer, pancreatic cancer etc. are known to be increased in obese individuals).

I would have thought that a lowcarb diet would decrease cancer, but honestly, with the latest research, it's suggesting the opposite. Two journal articles were published in Cell Metabolism this March and have made a lot of news headlines. You may have seen on NPR.com or webMD info about protein possibly being related to a shorter lifespan. The articles are interesting. They both suggest that moderate/high protein diets are related to increased death overall and increased death from cancer.

The human evidence came from a study of patients (I think 8,000 subjects) who have been followed for many years as part of the NHANES studies. However, they also took mice and randomized them to either low % protein intake or high % daily intake, then injected them with cancer (melanoma and breast cancer). The ones on high protein diets had way more tumor evidence and much more rapid progression of tumors.

Quite honestly, it scared me. They suspect there is a relationship between amino acids and IGF-1 levels (a hormone that is also related to insulin) that causes cell proliferation and inability to turn off somehow. I would not be surprised if the next big thing in trying to treat or prevent cancer is via a low protein diet.

Of course, the research has flaws, but I still don't like it at all. If the options are to eat more carbs and low protein and be obese vs have moderate protein and low carbs and die from cancer and other diseases earlier, I'm not sure what I would do. I'm just trying to be moderate in everything at this point and have a lot of vegetables and fruits.

Can look at pubmed.com to at least read abstracts about studies that have been done on this topic. While there may not be financial interest for a drug company in this topic, I can assure you there is a ton of interest in the healthcare field as to cancer prevention, treatment and longevity. There are entire institutes dedicated to research in longevity alone, which probably isn't a big moneymaker.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:23 PM   #16
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Samantha - great to see you posting again.

Question - for the studies with moderate and high protein, did this occur with high carb intake? Or, did these subjects eat moderate/high protein + LOW carb. There was a brief mention about mice, but it wasn't clear. I just read a summary article, so I didn't go into the study in depth.

I'm thinking of the obese person who eats a big burger with a bun - yes, the protein is high, but the carbs are also high (someone could be high carb + high protein + low fat). Unless the study could isolate the carbs as a variable in the population, I think we have more correlation than causation.

Thanks for mentioning the article - I might try to dig a bit more tomorrow when my brain is fresher.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:45 PM   #17
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Tribes that live mostly on animals tend to have low rates of cancer compared to modern societies so I'd like to believe it's correlation rather than causation.

We have had a long ass time to adapt to meat eating.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:56 PM   #18
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It is interesting to hear IGF-1 mentioned.

Not long ago I watched the Michael Mosley video called Eat, Fast and Live Longer. They tested his IGF-1 and it was the high end of normal, which put him at risk for health problems. He fasted for four days and it just about cut in half. As soon as he started eating again it went right back up. Then he sort-of fasted (500 calories) for two non-consecutive days per week for (I think) six weeks. His IGF-1 went back down to where it was after the four day fast. He didn't follow any particular diet, other than low calories on the two near-fasting days.

It makes me want to get my IGF-1 tested.
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:52 AM   #19
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I'm not sure if I can post this but thought I'd try:

Ketopia
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:28 PM   #20
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Samantha - great to see you posting again.

Question - for the studies with moderate and high protein, did this occur with high carb intake? Or, did these subjects eat moderate/high protein + LOW carb. There was a brief mention about mice, but it wasn't clear. I just read a summary article, so I didn't go into the study in depth.

I'm thinking of the obese person who eats a big burger with a bun - yes, the protein is high, but the carbs are also high (someone could be high carb + high protein + low fat). Unless the study could isolate the carbs as a variable in the population, I think we have more correlation than causation.

Thanks for mentioning the article - I might try to dig a bit more tomorrow when my brain is fresher.

It was correlation and not causation in a way, because it wasn't a randomized controlled trial. But they analyzed the data controlling for % fat intake and % carb intake and found they made no difference in the findings regarding protein. They did however, find that the risk of mortality decreased in the high/moderate protein when they controlled for animal protein. Meaning: it wasn't just protein overall that seems to correlate with higher mortality and cancer, it was animal protein specifically.

Yes, I do think we are adapted to eat meat and tolerate it well. However, most of the diseases-- cancer, heart disease etc. -- come way later in life and have no effect on our ability to reproduce. So even if eating meat was adaptive and healthy and ensured reproductive success, it doesn't mean that it can't be correlated with or lead to diseases that have no selective pressure since they occur at such a later age. Did that make sense? I'm being wordy.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:35 PM   #21
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I guess it's possible. I really hope it's not the case though
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Old 04-24-2014, 06:30 AM   #22
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Samantha - thanks for the clarification - as always, you worded it well. I'm at that age where I'm not breeding and I'm eating meat. Hmmmmm...
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