Exploring a Ketogenic Diet
Recent research suggests that cancer cells are prone to being “stressed out” and chaotic and that during these times of stress and chaos diet may be an effective weapon for patients whose cancers have returned or have become chemotherapy resistant.
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 kill this chaos and the cancer cells with them.
A team of Australian 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.”
So you see what is happening here. Cancer has mutated cancer patient’s chromosomes so that when cells replicate, they do not replicate a copy of themselves, they replicate a mutation of themselves. This is why cancer is so difficult to treat and can make themselves resistant to cancer therapies.
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 cost to the cancer cells.
The researchers continue: “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 below supportive nutrition.
Exploiting the cancer’s stress with chemotherapy is challenging and has yet to be proven effective
In a November 2017 study in the journal Cancers,(2) 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 in in question as new drug combinations bring their own risks and less than hoped for results.
A change in diet and a small metabolic push may kill cancer cells
Before you read on – it is strongly advised any dietary changes 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.
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, (3) 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 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 from various sides.
- Ketogenic diets work best as an “adjuvant treatments combined with pro-oxidative or targeted therapies initiated in early stages of the disease.”
In an earlier study, doctors at the University of Iowa wrote:(4)
“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.”
It may only take a small metabolic push.
- 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 Boison D. New insights into the mechanisms of the ketogenic diet. Curr Opin Neurol. 2017 Jan 30.
3. 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.
4. Allen, Bryan G. et al. “Ketogenic Diets as an Adjuvant Cancer Therapy: History and Potential Mechanism.” Redox Biology 2 (2014): 963–970. PMC. Web. 10 May 2016.