My journey with the Ketogenic/Low Carb lifestyle has been from purely from a fat loss/ weight management standpoint, starting this voyage nearly 2 years ago and 80 lbs heavier. Desperate for anything that would work I came across a documentary on Netflix, the Magic Pill… and it inspired me to make a change. A large part of success in any regimen in my opinion is education…. education about nutrition, education about your body, the more you know about the food you eat and the effects it has on your body the more equipped you’ll be to make smart decisions that support your goals…. and you can apply that to any lifestyle…Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean etc.
The longer I’m living this low carb lifestyle, the more I want to understand about the Ketogenic diet and it’s effects on the human body. Recently I posted about the Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy and I was fascinated by the history of the Ketogenic, and the medical uses for it.
Diving a little deeper, I’ve seen and heard reports that the Ketogenic Diet has been linked to Cancer as a possible treatment for certain types of Cancer…. I had to know more. Before I get started…. I don’t have cancer and I don’t advocate that the Keto diet is some sort of cure-all or create some false hope for anyone suffering from this disease. What I DO want is to understand why some people in the medical profession are looking at the Keto diet for purposes aside from weight management and what effect they propose the Keto diet has on cancer.
This topic is like an onion and each layer that you remove reveals another layer. I’ve highlighted (3) noted and celebrated figures from the past and the present and some of their contributions surrounding the keto diet and cancer. This is by no means a comprehensive list as any Google search will attest to, but when I started looking into this topic, these (3) figures jumped out at me.
Otto Heinrich Warburg (8 October 1883 – 1 August 1970), was a German physiologist, medical doctor, and Nobel laureate. His research was hailed as a major breakthrough in our understanding of cancer. In 1923, he hypothesized that the primary cause of cancer was a dysfunctional metabolic process causing cancer cells to utilize large amounts of energy (glucose). Warburg’s discovery, now termed The Warburg Effect, was that cancer cells preferentially take up an excess of glucose and convert it to lactate for energy (ATP) production. This dependence on glucose allows oncologists to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to locate tumors within a patients body. By mixing radiolabeled dye with sugar (glucose) they can follow where the highest amount of glucose is being consumed in the body. https://charliefoundation.org/keto-for-cancer/
The Warburg effect, is estimated to occur in up to 80 percent of cancers. It is so fundamental to most cancers that a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which has emerged as an important tool in the staging and diagnosis of cancer, works simply by revealing the places in the body where cells are consuming extra glucose. In many cases, the more glucose a tumor consumes, the worse a patient’s prognosis.
Thomas Seyfried, PHD
Thomas N. Seyfried received his Ph.D. in Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1976. He did his undergraduate work at the University of New England (formally St. Francis College) and also holds a Master’s degree in Genetics from Illinois State University, Normal, IL Full Biography on Tomseyfried.com
Professor of Biology at Boston College, author of “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease“. Dr. Seyfried takes up where Otto Warburg left off, believing that Cancer is not a genetic disorder, but a metabolic disorder (A metabolic disorder occurs when the metabolism process fails and causes the body to have either too much or too little of the essential substances needed to stay healthy. Our bodies are very sensitive to errors in metabolism – Healthline.com). This has significant implications to the treatment and prevention of cancer including non-toxic cancer therapies like the Ketogenic Diet among others.
Dr. Seyfried can be seen below in a lecture titled “Cancer: A Metabolic Disease with Metabolic Solutions”, it’s a little long winded (54:40) and in depth … but it’s a lecture from the professor of Biology at Boston College…it’s supposed to be, but worth the time invested.
Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer – by Thomas Seyfried PHD
Book Synopsis: The book addresses controversies related to the origins of cancer and provides solutions to cancer management and prevention. It expands upon Otto Warburg’s well-known theory that all cancer is a disease of energy metabolism. However, Warburg did not link his theory to the “hallmarks of cancer” and thus his theory was discredited. This book aims to provide evidence, through case studies, that cancer is primarily a metabolic disease requiring metabolic solutions for its management and prevention. Support for this position is derived from critical assessment of current cancer theories. Brain cancer case studies are presented as a proof of principle for metabolic solutions to disease management, but similarities are drawn to other types of cancer, including breast and colon, due to the same cellular mutations that they demonstrate.
Dominic D’Agostino, PHD
Research Scientist, Inst. Human and Machine Cognition, Associate Professor, College of Medicine Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology.
- PHD, Physiology, Neuroscience, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 2004
- BS, Biological Sciences, Nutrition Science, Rutgers University, 1998
I came across Dr. D’Agostino in this 2013 Ted Talk titled “Starving Cancer”. In this fascinating 10 minute lecture that he gave in Tampa at Ted X, Dr. D’Agostino tells the story how he stumbled across Ketosis and it’s possible effects on cancer while working with the US Navy Seals working on a strategy to mitigate seizures in divers.
Dr. D’Agostino is the founder of KetoNutrition.org and has become the “face” of the Ketogenic diet and is known as the King of Keto in certain circles. His work has been recognized by heavy hitters like Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, and Tom Bilyeu, who have featured him on countless podcasts, articles, and video series. His interviews has received 10s of millions of views.
What has started out as researching the Ketogenic diet to understand the effects on our bodies as a strategy for weight loss has exploded into new directions that I had not anticipated. Getting a better understanding of how our bodies react to food on terms of weight management is fundamental to health and well being…right? At 300 lbs, I knew that I was a candidate for heart
disease, diabetes etc… we take that for granted, but what if it’s much more than that.
Today Cancer is the second leading cause of death trailing only heart disease. In 1900 the leading cause of death in the US was Influenza/Pneumonia. By the 1950’s heart disease & cancer had taken over as the leading causes of death and continue to lead today. What has changed in our diets over the last 100 years? Our consumption of processed foods and refined sugars has grown exponentially… is there a connection? There are many in the medical community like Dr. Seyfried & Dr. D’Agostino that believe there is a correlation and they make some compelling arguments that warrants continued research and bears watching.
However, I don’t want to paint a biased picture here because not everyone agrees, here’s an excerpt from FredHutch.org (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
Carol Oxford Tatom, a research scientist and breast cancer patient from Vacaville, California, “The papers I read on keto and cancer were all in mice,” she said. “They’re still all in mice. And we’re not mice. There’s no clinical evidence that it’s healthy.”Tatom gets the rationale for trying it — “the idea is the Warburg effect, that cancer feeds on sugar” — but she thinks people often look at dietary issues too simplistically.
“That whole idea that sugar feeds cancer? Well, sugar also feeds us, it feeds all cells. If you you eat a reasonably balanced diet, that’s really been shown to be the healthiest,” she said.
Randomized clinical trials — on people, not mice — are what’s needed to suss out whether there’s anything there, Tatom said. Until then, crusading for keto as a cure can “promote false hope and … cause harm.”
This is a sensitive subject and emotions can run deep, especially for those that have been thru the struggle or close to it.
- What are your thoughts?
- Does the Ketogenic Diet have an effect on cancer one way or the other?
Leave a comment below.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates