In this article we will explore how a small change in diet may be a way to kill cancer cells.
Recent research suggests that cancer cells are prone to becoming “stressed out” and chaotic in their behavior during the mutation process they go through to become more “chemo-resistant.” During these times of mutation, stress and chaos, a change in a person’s diet may be an effective weapon in killing cancer cells. Let’s see how.
Let’s start with a study that explains the chaos cancer causes in cells. Then we can get to the research on how diet can control this chaos and kill the cancer cells causing it.
“Chromosomal Instability can give tumors the diversity to resist therapy, but it comes at the cost of significant stress to tumor cells”
A team of researchers wrote in the journal Oncogene:(1)
“Chromosomal Instability, a hallmark of cancer, refers to cells with an increased rate of gain or loss of whole chromosomes or chromosome parts. Chromosomal Instability is linked to the progression of tumors with poor clinical outcomes such as drug resistance. Chromosomal Instability can give tumors the diversity to resist therapy, but it comes at the cost of significant stress to tumor cells. To tolerate this, cancer cells must modify their energy use to provide adaptation against genetic changes as well as to promote their survival and growth.”
This is what is happening here: Cancer has mutated the cancer patient’s chromosomes enough so that when cells replicate, the cancer cells do not replicate a copy of themselves, they replicate a mutation of themselves. This is why cancer is so difficult to treat and how cancer cells make themselves resistant to cancer therapies.
Mild metabolic disruption (diet) that does not affect normal cells, can lead to high levels of oxidative stress and subsequent cell death in tumor friendly cells because the tumor friendly cells are already managing elevated stress levels.
In this study we are citing, the researchers have demonstrated that chromosomal instability induction causes sensitivity to metabolic stress. In other words, the ability to mutate chromosomes comes at a significant cost to the cancer cells. Here is how, explained by the researchers: “mild metabolic disruption (diet) that does not affect normal cells, can lead to high levels of oxidative stress and subsequent cell death in chromosomal instability cells because they are already managing elevated stress levels. Altered metabolism is a differential characteristic of cancer cells, so our identification of key regulators that can exploit these changes to cause cell death may provide cancer-specific potential drug targets, especially for advanced cancers that exhibit chromosomal instability.”
What is being suggested in this research is that doctors need to figure out how to alter the metabolism of the cancer cells by giving them more stress and causing more chaos to the norms (mutation) which requires greater cancer energy output. In other words, burning out the cancer from within. The doctors in this study suggest potential drug targets. We are going to suggest supportive nutrition.
Aneuploidy – the missing and added chromosome – how cancer adapts to this stress.
This article is focusing on the develop of tumor activity. As just stated this can be the result of chromosomal instability or medically the diagnosis of Aneuploidy. A September 2020 study in the journal Open biology (2) furthers our understanding of how we may be able to disrupt cancer development and growth.
“Aneuploidy, an irregular number of chromosomes in cells, is a hallmark feature of cancer. Aneuploidy results from chromosomal instability (CIN) and occurs in almost 90% of all tumours. While many cancers display an ongoing chromosomal instability phenotype (regularly overserved characteristics), cells can also be aneuploid without displaying chromosomal instability. Chromosomal instability drives tumour evolution as ongoing chromosomal missegregation will yield a progeny of cells with variable (chromosome numbers). The resulting aneuploidy is initially toxic to cells because it leads to proteotoxic and metabolic stress, cell cycle arrest, cell death, immune cell activation and further genomic instability. In order to overcome these aneuploidy-imposed stresses and adopt a malignant fate, aneuploid cancer cells must develop aneuploidy-tolerating mechanisms to cope with chromosomal instability.”
That is how clever cancer is. It takes advantage of Aneuploidy or chromosomal instability to create tumors, but the development of chromosomal instability kills the cells. Cancer figures out a way to survive this.
Exploiting the cancer’s weakness during its mutation with chemotherapy has yet to be proven effective
In a study in the journal Cancers,(3) doctors reported: “Unfortunately, exploiting Chromosomal Instability remains a significant challenge, as the aberrant mechanisms driving Chromosomal Instability and their causative roles in cancer have yet to be fully (understood). The development and utilization of chromosomal instability-exploiting therapies is further complicated by the associated risks for off-target effects and secondary cancers. . . exploring and exploiting Chromosomal Instability has tremendous therapeutic potential in cancer, and may represent a critical vulnerability that can be targeted to treat aggressive, drug resistant cancers, to ultimately improve the quality of life and outcomes for those living with cancer.”
What we are seeing is that attacking Chromosomal Instability is a good idea, how to attack it is the question. New drug combinations bring their own risks and less than hoped for results.
This idea was supported by an April 2020 study (4) suggesting that while Chromosome instability has tremendous implications for the clinical management and outcomes of those living with cancer, several decades of genetic research on chromosome instability, the molecular determinants remain largely unknown, which severely limits its clinical potential. It should be pointed out the thios research and many similiar papers are looking towards that one day in the future when drugs may be developed to address chromosomal instability. But what about today?
A change in diet and a small metabolic push may kill cancer cells
Before you read on – it is strongly advised any dietary changes should be discussed at length with your physician.
In this article we are only exploring one type of diet. There are many diets that may prove beneficial. A ketogenic diet may not be right for everyone.
Ketogenic Diets – The metabolic push may be successful in attacking the glucose metabolism of cancer cells.
Above we discussed that a small metabolic push may be enough to stress out cells with chromosomal instability. Some researchers think ketogenic diets may offer that push. A study dated for March 2019 and published in the journal Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, (5) suggests:
“Altered glucose metabolism in cancer cells is an almost ubiquitous observation, yet hardly exploited therapeutically. However, ketogenic diets have gained growing attention in recent years as a nontoxic broad-spectrum approach to target this major metabolic difference between normal and cancer cells. Although much research still needs to be done, new knowledge has been gained about the optimal utilization of ketogenic diets for cancer treatment that this review aims to summarize.
Although most pre-clinical studies indicate a therapeutic potential for ketogenic diets in cancer treatment, it is now becoming clear that not all tumors might respond positively. Early clinical trials have investigated ketogenic diets as a monotherapy and – while showing the safety of the approach even in advanced cancer patients – largely failed to prove survival prolonging effects. However, it gradually became clear that the greatest potential for ketogenic diets is as adjuvant treatments combined with pro-oxidative or targeted therapies initiated in early stages of the disease. Beneficial effects on body composition and quality of life have also been found.”
The researchers are saying a lot here:
The metabolic push may be successful in attacking the glucose metabolism of cancer cells.
Monotherapy is not effective (our observations are that there are no “magic bullet” monotherapies), you must attack cancer with various modalities.
Ketogenic diets work best as an “adjuvant treatments combined with pro-oxidative or targeted therapies initiated in early stages of the disease.”
Ketogenic diets could represent a potential dietary manipulation that could be rapidly implemented for the purpose of exploiting inherent oxidative metabolic differences between cancer cells and normal cells
In an earlier study, doctors at the University of Iowa wrote:(6)
“Despite recent advances in chemo-radiation, the prognosis for many cancer patients remains poor, and most current treatments are limited by severe adverse events. Therefore, there is a great need for complimentary approaches that have limited patient toxicity while selectively enhancing therapy responses in cancer versus normal tissues.
Ketogenic diets could represent a potential dietary manipulation that could be rapidly implemented for the purpose of exploiting inherent oxidative metabolic differences between cancer cells and normal cells to improve standard therapeutic outcomes by selectively enhancing metabolic oxidative stress in cancer cells.”
Recently in March 2020 (7) researchers suggested: “The ketogenic diet probably creates an unfavorable metabolic environment for cancer cells and thus can be regarded as a promising adjuvant as a patient-specific multifactorial therapy. The majority of preclinical and several clinical studies argue for the use of the ketogenic diet in combination with standard therapies based on its potential to enhance the antitumor effects of classic chemo- and radiotherapy, its overall good safety and tolerability and increase in quality of life.”
It may only take a small metabolic push.
Ketogenic diets are considered controversial in cancer care
There is some research as demonstrated above to suggest that Ketogenic diets can be beneficial for patients. Yet the subject remains controversial. This is pointed out by an October 2021 paper from the University of Alabama (8) which states: “Studies are also needed to examine the effects of Ketogenic diets in multiple forms of cancer to determine whether the diet provides synergistic or additive benefits as an adjuvant therapy. Based on the sparse data available, there is reason to predict that KD could serve as an adjuvant to reduce tumor formation and progression. In addition, it will be important to examine tolerability of the Ketogenic diets in different types of cancers and treatments”
If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
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1 Stressed-out cancers may provide drug target. Shaukat Z, Liu D, Choo A, Hussain R, O’Keefe L, Richards R, Saint R, Gregory SL. Chromosomal instability causes sensitivity to metabolic stress. Oncogene. 2015 Jul 30;34(31):4044-55. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.344. Epub 2014 Oct 27.
2 Zhou L, Jilderda LJ, Foijer F. Exploiting aneuploidy-imposed stresses and coping mechanisms to battle cancer. Open Biology. 2020 Sep 2;10(9):200148.
3 Thompson LL, Jeusset LM, Lepage CC, McManus KJ. Evolving therapeutic strategies to exploit chromosome instability in cancer. Cancers. 2017 Nov;9(11):151.
4 Vishwakarma R, McManus KJ. Chromosome Instability; Implications in Cancer Development, Progression, and Clinical Outcomes. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Mar 29;12(4):824. doi: 10.3390/cancers12040824. PMID: 32235397; PMCID: PMC7226245.
5 Klement RJ. The emerging role of ketogenic diets in cancer treatment. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 2019 Mar 1;22(2):129-34.
6 Allen BG, Bhatia SK, Anderson CM, Eichenberger-Gilmore JM, Sibenaller ZA, Mapuskar KA, Schoenfeld JD, Buatti JM, Spitz DR, Fath MA. Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox biology. 2014 Jan 1;2:963-70.
7 Weber DD, Aminzadeh-Gohari S, Tulipan J, Catalano L, Feichtinger RG, Kofler B. Ketogenic diet in the treatment of cancer – Where do we stand?. Mol Metab. 2020;33:102-121. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2019.06.026
8 Lane J, Brown NI, Williams S, Plaisance EP, Fontaine KR. Ketogenic Diet for Cancer: Critical Assessment and Research Recommendations. Nutrients. 2021 Oct;13(10):3562.