Oncologists from University of Iowa have shown that cancer cells, relative to normal cells, demonstrate significant alterations in metabolism. They propose that cancer cells increase glucose and hydroperoxide metabolism to compensate for increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
It is reasonable to propose that forcing cancer cells to use mitochondrial oxidative metabolism by feeding ketogenic diets (high in fats and low in carbohydrates), would selectively cause metabolic oxidative stress in cancer versus normal cells. Increased metabolic oxidative stress in cancer cells would in turn be predicted to selectively sensitize cancer cells to conventional radiation and chemotherapies.
There is evidence supporting the hypothesis that ketogenic diets may be safely used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional radiation and chemotherapies. Ketogenic diets may enhance cancer cell therapeutic responses.
Interestingly it has been found that ketogenic diets have much in common with fasting, which also induces a state of ketosis. Fasting has been shown to enhance responsiveness to chemotherapy in pre-clinical cancer therapy models as well as possibly ameliorating some of the normal tissue side effects seen with chemotherapy. Fasting cycles are also reported to retard the growth of tumors and sensitize a range of cancer cell types to chemotherapy.
As the cancer patient might find fasting too demanding, ketogenic diets might offer an interesting model to achieve the same metabolic benefits.
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 Biol. 2014;2:963-70. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Aug 7. PMID: 25460731; PMCID: PMC4215472.
Lee C., Raffaghello L., Brandhorst S., Safdie F.M., Bianchi G., Martin-Montalvo A., Pistoia V., Wei M., Hwang S., Merlino A., Emionite L., de Cabo R., Longo V.D. Fasting cycles retard growth of tumors and sensitize a range of cancer cell types to chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine. 2012;4(124)
Safdie F.M., Dorff T., Quinn D., Fontana L., Wei M., Lee C., Cohen P., Longo V.D. Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: a case series report. Aging. 2009;1(12):988–1007
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