If you are on, or considering going on, a ketogenic diet, you are probably already aware that it is a hugely powerful way to cut body fat quickly, easily and safely. You may also have read about its other health benefits, including its ability to stabilize blood glucose levels, making you feel energetic all day long and cutting out sugar cravings, as well as helping prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. What you may not have heard about yet, is evidence from a recent study that suggests that a ketogenic diet can prevent cancer, and can slow the growth of existing tumors.
Research into the impact of a ketogenic diet on cancer is ongoing, however initial experiments performed on mice by leading scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Research Center show that diet has a very significant effect on both the development of cancer cells, and whether cancer develops at all in subjects with a genetic predisposition.
In these experiments, one group of mice was fed carbohydrate, protein and fat in proportions equivalent to the typical Western diet. The other group was fed in proportions representative of a ketogenic diet – low in carbs, and higher in fat.
In one experiment, mice with cancerous tumors were used. It was consistently shown that these tumors grew significantly more quickly in the mice on the Western diet.
In another parallel experiment the mice used did not have cancer at the start, but were bred to have a genetic predisposition toward breast cancer. Almost half of these mice, when fed on the Western diet, showed cancer within the first year (the average life span of these mice is two years). Only one of the mice in this group reached its normal life expectancy, and 70% ultimately died of cancer. Of the group on the ketogenic diet, only 30% ever developed cancer, and over half reached their normal life expectancy or exceeded it.
The reason for this is that cancer cells are thought to use more glucose than regular cells to grow and reproduce. This means that a diet which is low is carbohydrate doesn’t feed them enough to thrive as they usually would.
This is an interesting additional beneficial effect of the ketogenic diet, which will be subject to a lot more research. Many cancer patients express a preference for things they can do for themselves to help fight their conditions, with dietary changes being a way they can feel in control of positive moves towards their own recovery.