“Come with me if you want to live!” Ketogenic diet is Kyle Reese for cancer patients

Do you remember the scene in Terminator where Kyle Reese says to the terrified Sarah Conner, “Come with me if you want to live!”  Well, if we consider cancer to be a terminator, then wouldn’t it make sense to do nothing that would make the Schwarznegger monster stronger, like feed it the energy it requires to grow and to invade?  A new study shows that calorie and carbohydrate restriction and ketogenic diet (high fat, low carb) will enhance radiation therapy, giving the patient a fighting chance.  If you want to live, come with me.  Stop eating sugar and starches and stop feeding the Terminator.

Calories, carbohydrates, and cancer therapy with radiation: exploiting the five R’s through dietary manipulation

Here is the clip:

Thomas Seyfried on ketogenic diets and fasting as a treatment for cancer

I mentioned in an earlier post that it would make sense to implement a strict ketogenic diet as a treatment to help fight or prevent cancer. A ketogenic diet severely restricts sugars and starches, and turns to fat in order to maintain adequate energy.  I might have been a bit too optimistic that a high fat low carb diet could cure advanced cases of cancer, but it seems logical that it would deprive cancer cells of glucose and thus give a cancer patient a fighting chance.  We know that people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome have increased incidence of cancer, and it stands to reason that good blood glucose control could possibly ward off cancer cells’ ability to advance.  In any case, I am convinced that good maintenance of tight glucose control (4.3-4.6) is essential for good health, and human beings can only achieve that through avoidance of too much carbohydrate.  However, how much total carbohydrate a person can tolerate is a highly individual issue, but I doubt that people with extremely healthy blood sugar should consume more than about 150 gm of carbohydrate per day (cf. Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet).  For myself I follow Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s recommendation of about 30 gm of carbohydrate for those who have glucose intolerance.

Now, Prof. Thomas Seyfried is at the cutting edge of advanced research into this line of investigation.  He has a new book, though very expensive, Cancer as metabolic disorder which explores this avenue of research and treatment.  Youtube has two enlightening videos featuring Seyfried which I recommend.  I am encouraged to implement regular intermittent fasting (I skip breakfast nearly every day) and also occasional longer fasts–though for this I will await the season of Lent, so that the fasting can contribute both to spiritual and physical health.

Could a ketogenic diet help prevent or even cure cancer?

In 1977 my mother passed away from cancer at the age of 47.  I was thirteen and my little sister was eight.

Fairly recent research has shown remarkable facts about cancer cells (Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories, ch. 13):  cancer cells use thirty times as much glucose as healthy cells because they depend on fermentation for energy.  Furthermore, they are not insulin resistant–when other cells in the body resist the efforts of insulin to import glucose for energy, cancer cells happily accept them.  Thus, cancer cells apparently thrive in people who have high levels of blood sugar (e.g., prediabetics who have glucose intolerance), for diabetics and prediabetics have a much higher rate of cancer than people with normal blood sugars.

So I ask myself if it would be possible to starve cancer cells to cure cancer or to prevent their appearance in the first place.  With a little bit of internet research, I found a some sources that may suggest this:  (1) A 2011 scientific study shows that a low carb diet could prevent cancer in lab mice; (2) Some claim that a ketogenic diet (i.e., a diet consisting of a absolute minimum of carbohydrates resulting in the burning of fat for energy) is a useful therapy against cancer, also in combination with traditional therapies (chemo or radiation).  One man claims that a ketogenic diet cured his cancer when doctors had given him only three months to live (see here).

Now the medical profession as a whole has been slow to accept low carb dieting, and this is much to their shame.  Personally, I’ve benefited from low carbing: I now enjoy normal blood sugars, normal blood pressure, 35 lbs of weight loss, and a significant attenuation of all my diabetic symptoms.  I feel better and I have hope that I may actually be able to live longer with much better health.

My mother was a physician and she had diabetes.  But I am certain that she did not have her blood sugars under control–our family ate rice everyday, along with other high carb foods.  Moreover, the technology to be able to monitor blood glucose at home did not exist before 1977. Dr. Richard K. Bernstein champions the Diabetes Solution, which requires diabetics to monitor their blood sugar several times a day and implement an ultra low carb diet (30 gm of carbs per day)–Dr. Bernstein only started using a portable glucose tester for the first time in 1969 (p. xvi).  The makers of this glucose tester designed it for hospital use only, but Dr. Bernstein, who was an engineer at the time, was able to obtain one through his wife who was a physician.  Then it took him a few years to perfect a technique for establishing normal blood sugars.  Today, many diabetics use his method to successfully maintain normal blood sugars.

It makes me wonder:  Had my mom been able to control her blood sugars, could she have prevented her cancer? I hope through this blog post to encourage low carb dieting as a legitimate effective therapy and preventative method–for many ailments related to diabetes, but perhaps also for cancer.  I think that this is where the research is leading us, and hopefully the medical profession will pay attention.

PS:  As I finished writing this post the news of Hugo Chavez’ death from cancer at age 58 has surfaced.  Undoubtedly, he suffered from metabolic syndrome, as his girth would suggest.